Ekaterini, born in Greece at the beginning of the twentieth century, is a woman who knows her own mind. Against the wishes of her family, she marries an immigrant worker and follows him from the port of Thessaloniki to Belgrade. There, Ekaterini is not only forced to learn the country’s ‘odd’ language and adapt to life in an alien culture, but soon becomes a young widow who must guide her two small daughters safely through the turmoil caused by the Second World War and the socialist post-war period. Refusing to cheer Stalin or to bend to the new political environment, the story of a remarkably stoic and courageous woman unfolds: a woman whose life spans the collapse of Yugoslavia, the last Balkan war, the Kosovo crisis and the bombing of Belgrade, and yet still dreams of one day returning to her beloved Greece.
Ekaterini is the human story of an epoch. Though set in the Balkans, it is nevertheless a tale of universal human survival, chronicling the ordinary lives of women who live through history’s most turbulent times. While written in homage to the ancient story of Odysseus this remarkable novel sees the roles reversed, so that it is a modern Penelope who must travel and suffer in search of her homeland. With her distinctive brand of humour, Marija Knežević cleverly parodies the traditional biography by demystifying the everyday events of life and allowing a female narrator to share her version of events.
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