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A Spare Life (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

“Every pain is both global and local.”

Fans of Elena Ferrante and Magda Szabo will not want to miss A SPARE LIFE! This novel by celebrated Macedonian poet Lidija Dimkovska follows Zlata and Srebra, twins born conjoined at the head who come of age as their native Macedonia struggles to declare independence from communist Yugoslavia. Though their poverty-stricken childhood is marred by alienation and disappointment, Zlata and Srebra develop distinct identities and aspirations, hinging on a long-held belief that they will one day be separated by surgeons in London. A lyrical and devastating meditation on tragedy, national identity, diaspora, and hope, A SPARE LIFE is one of the most powerful novels I read in 2016. Katharine highly recommends.

— Katherine


Zlata and Srebra are 12-year-old twins conjoined at the head. It is 1984 and they live in Skopje, which will one day be the capital of Macedonia but is currently a part of Yugoslavia. A Spare Life tells the story of their childhood, from their only friend Roze to their neighbor Bogdan, so poor that he one day must eat his pet rabbit. Treated as freaks and outcasts--even by their own family--the twins just want to be normal girls. But after an incident that almost destroys their bond as sisters, they fly to London, determined to be surgically separated. Will this be their liberation, or only more tightly ensnare them?

At once extraordinary and quotidian, A Spare Life is a chronicle of two girls who are among the first generation to come of age under democracy in Eastern Europe. Written in touching prose by an author who is also a master poet, it is a saga about families, sisterhood, immigration, and the occult influences that shape a life. Funny, poignant, dark, and sharply observed, Zlata and Srebra reveal an existence where even the simplest of actions is unlike any we've ever experienced.

About the Author

Lidija Dimkovska is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2013 European Union Prize for Literature for A Spare Life. She is also the author of the poetry collection pH Neutral History (Copper Canyon Press, 2012), which was a finalist for the 2013 Best Translated Book Award, and Do Not Awaken Them With Hammers (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2006). She lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Christina E. Kramer is a professor of Slavic and Balkan languages and linguistics at the University of Toronto. She is the author of numerous books on the Macedonian language and the Balkans and is the translator of Freud's Sister, The Time of the Goats, and My Father's Books. She lives in Toronto.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781931883559
ISBN-10: 1931883556
Publisher: Two Lines Press
Publication Date: October 11th, 2016
Pages: 428
Language: English
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