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Petar Andonovski

Fear of Barbarians

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Translated from Macedonian by Christina E. Kramer


Gavdos: a remote island south of Crete, the southernmost point of Europe, surrounded by an endless expanse of sea.

To Oksana, who has come from Ukraine with her friends to recover from illness in the aftermath of Chernobyl, it seems like a dream to live in a blue-and-white house with a lemon tree. To Penelope, a Greek woman who was married off to an unsuitable man by nuns from the convent where she spent her teenage years, it is a kind of prison.

Their two narratives, interwoven with other stories – of the other women of the sparse community, of their own past lives and loves – are skilfully combined with themes of otherness and the notions of ‘foreign’ and ‘barbaric’ in this poetic and timely short novel by acclaimed Macedonian writer Petar Andonovski, winner of the European Union Prize for Literature.

Petar Andonovski was born in 1987, in Kumanovo, north Macedonia. He studied general and comparative literature at the Faculty of Philology, at the University of Cyril and Methodius in Skopje. He has published one poetry collection and three novels. In 2015 his novel The Body One Must Live In won the national award for Novel of the Year. Fear of Barbarians received the 2020 European Union Prize for Literature.

Christina E. Kramer is professor emerita at the University of Toronto. She is the author of numerous books on Macedonian language and the Balkans and a translator of Macedonian literature, including Freud’s Sister, by Goce Smilevski; My Father’s Books, The Time of the Goats and The Path of the Eels, by Luan Starova; and A Spare Life, by Lidija Dimkovksa.