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Longlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award 2018
How to be a Kosovan Bride opens up something entirely new to the reader: the history, culture and stories of one of the newest countries in the world. It weaves together Albanian folktale, stories of Kosovan experience of the war in 1999 and a look into the lives of modern-day Kosovan women.
The dark undercurrent of Albanian blood feuds underpins a story about the impact of war and the way that new life can emerge from darkness.
It is characterised by striking imagery and daring form.
‘At once forensic and elegiac, How To Be a Kosovan Bride tells its stories with exquisite subtlety and power.’ —Livi Michael
‘★★★★★ Hamill's writing is nothing short of extraordinary. She writes in a style scarcely encountered in fiction, addressing the reader as 'you' throughout the novel, and thus managing to make us feel unnerved that we have not done more to liberate women like the Returned Girl and the Kosovan Wife. This guilt adds to the sympathy we already feel for the protagonists, with their lack of names and characteristics failing to stop us connecting with them. The stories of the recent war are equally harrowing, and once again, the lack of the specific names of those they feature only serves to make them more moving, as we realise they could have been experienced by almost anyone who suffered through the conflict.’ —Luke Marlowe, The Bookbag
‘How To Be A Kosovan Bride is a good look at a country in conflict and the people on the wrong side of it, as well as a country still coming into its own. It is hard-hitting and very political but the humour and shortness of it balances this out.’ —The Worm Hole
‘This subtle exploration of the complexities of life in newly liberated Kosovo is presented in nuanced, engaging prose. A modern history told through its people. An intelligent, rewarding story.’ —neverimitate
‘The book has the rhythm of a set of fairy tales, and actually also incorporates a traditional fairy tale within it. It’s sparse, and effectively repetitive delivery is both utterly compelling and powerful. It also made me realise that despite knowing some Albanian refugees back around 2000, I know woefully little about this part of recent history. Altogether a remarkable book.’ —Desperate Reader
‘This brief work (published by Norfolk independent Salt) is presented in very short chapters, written in hypnotically lyrical prose and from a number of perspectives, each with an intensity and sense of completeness which meant that I could only digest a couple at a time. The novel bears witness to the scars of brutal conflict and the collision between tradition and new and outside influences, particularly as they affect the lives of women. In the latter respect, the questions it raises are relevant far beyond Kosovo, the experiences of both the Kosovan Bride and the Returned Girl evoking empathy and recognition. The author’s connection with the place and its culture come through vividly and there is an admirable boldness and subtlety to this often traumatic but ultimately life-affirming story, in which little is spelled out.’ —Isabel Costello, The Literary Sofa
‘I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. It is unlike anything I have read before. it introduced me to a country and a people in subtle but complicated ways. It drew me in from the first page but the short interwoven stories gave me breathing and thinking space. The anonymous characters become immediately intriguing and relatable.’ —Rebecca Cooper, Goodreads