These authors of historical fiction have written books that explore the fluidity of identity, as influenced by political turmoil, all their female main characters experiencing political strife. Cristina Ali Farah’s Little Mother was written in response to President Trump’s travel ban. Ivana Bodrozic’s The Hotel Tito follows a displaced teenager navigating war-torn Croatia. And Monika Zgustova’s book The Silent Woman dissects an aristocratic woman’s life against a backdrop of the Second World War. This event will be moderated by Niyosha Keyzad and hosted by Emily Saso.
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Ivana Bodrožić was born in Vukovar, Croatia, in 1982 where she lived until the Yugoslav wars started in 1991. That year, her father disappeared while fighting for Croatian independence and she and the rest of her family moved to Kumrovec, where they lived in a hotel for displaced persons. The Hotel Tito, her first novel, was published in 2010, receiving high praise from both critics and audiences. It became a Croatian bestseller and won the prestigious Prix Ulysee for best debut novel in France, as well as a number of important awards in Croatia and the Balkan region. This author is supported by the Ministry of the Republic of Croatia.
Cristina Ali Farah was born in Verona, Italy, to a Somali father and an Italian mother. She grew up in Mogadishu, but fled at the outbreak of the civil war at age 18. She is currently based in Brussels. She is a poet, novelist, playwright and oral performer. She has published stories and poems in several anthologies and in 2006, she won the Lingua Madre National Literary Prize. Her novel Madre piccola (2007) was awarded the prestigious Vittorini Prize and has been translated into English with the title Little Mother (2011). This author is supported by the Instituto Italiano di Cultura.
Niyosha Keyzad is a PhD Candidate at the Department of English and the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on memoirs of the Iranian diaspora, and literatures of exile and displacement.
Emily Saso (Canada) writes fiction and screenplays. She lives in Toronto and blogs at egoburn.blogspot.ca. Her debut novel, The Weather Inside, was published in 2016. She is currently writing her second.
Monika Zgustova is an award-winning author (Calamo and Amat-Piniella awards for the Best Novel of the Year, as well as Merce Rodoreda and The City of Barcelona awards, among others) whose literary works have been published in 10 languages. She was born in Prague. She studied comparative literature at the universities of Chicago and Illinois. She lives in Barcelona and writes for El Pais, The Nation and other magazines. As a translator of Czech and Russian literature—including Havel, Kundera, Hrabal, Hasek, Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, and Babel—Zgustova is credited with bringing major 20th-century writers into Spanish and Catalan. This author is supported by The Institut Ramon Llull.