In this Book

My Father’s Books
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In My Father’s Books, the first volume in Luan Starova’s multivolume Balkan Saga, he explores themes of history, displacement, and identity under three turbulent regimes—Ottoman, Fascist, and Stalinist—in the twentieth century. Weaving a story from the threads of his parents’ lives from 1926 to 1976, he offers a child’s-eye view of personal relationships in shifting political landscapes and an elegiac reminder of the enduring power of books to sustain a literate culture.
    Through lyrical waves of memory, Starova reveals his family’s overlapping religious, linguistic, national, and cultural histories. His father left Constantinople as the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and the young family fled from Albania to Yugoslav Macedonia when Luan was a boy. His parents, cosmopolitan and well-traveled in their youth, and steeped in the cultures of both Orient and Occident, find themselves raising their children in yet another stagnant and repressive state. Against this backdrop, Starova remembers the protected spaces of his childhood—his mother’s walled garden, his father’s library, the cupboard holding the rarest and most precious of his father’s books. Preserving a lost heritage, these books also open up a world that seems wide, deep, and boundless.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
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  1. Contents
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  1. Translator’s Note
  2. pp. ix-xi
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  1. Part One
  2. p. 5
  1. My Father, Our Family, the Books
  2. p. 7
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  1. Love
  2. p. 9
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  1. The Fate of the Books
  2. p. 10
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  1. Differences
  2. p. 11
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  1. The Garden
  2. pp. 12-13
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  1. The Fountain
  2. p. 14
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  1. The Balcony
  2. pp. 15-16
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  1. The Cabinet
  2. pp. 17-19
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  1. Identity
  2. pp. 20-22
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  1. The Life of the Books
  2. p. 23
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  1. The Death of the Manuscript
  2. p. 24
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  1. A Secret
  2. pp. 25-26
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  1. Learning about the Deities
  2. p. 27
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  1. My Father’s Fatherlands
  2. pp. 28-30
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  1. My Father’s Languages
  2. pp. 31-32
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  1. My Father’s Dictionaries
  2. p. 33
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  1. The Radio
  2. pp. 34-35
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  1. Old Age
  2. p. 36
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  1. The Books and My Father’s Friends
  2. p. 37
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  1. Eastern Dream and Western Dream
  2. pp. 39-41
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  1. Friends
  2. pp. 42-43
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  1. Autodidacts
  2. pp. 44-45
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  1. Libraries
  2. p. 46
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  1. A Boarder in Babel
  2. pp. 47-48
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  1. Language Quarrels
  2. pp. 49-50
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  1. Balkan Babel
  2. p. 51
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  1. A Choice
  2. pp. 52-53
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  1. Sacrifice for Books
  2. pp. 54-56
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  1. The End of Time
  2. p. 57
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  1. The Books in One’s Life
  2. pp. 58-59
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  1. Father’s Books, Migrations, Stalinism, the Balkan Wall
  2. p. 61
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  1. The Spyglass
  2. pp. 63-67
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  1. The Globe
  2. pp. 68-74
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  1. The Family Clock
  2. pp. 75-76
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  1. Travel
  2. pp. 77-78
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  1. The Bomb
  2. pp. 79-81
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  1. Flags
  2. pp. 82-83
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  1. The Mother Tongue
  2. pp. 84-87
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  1. The Holy Books
  2. pp. 88-89
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  1. Dreams of a Lost Time
  2. pp. 90-91
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  1. The Power of Languages
  2. pp. 92-93
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  1. Rakija and Meze
  2. pp. 94-95
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  1. The Taste of the Dough
  2. p. 96
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  1. Holiday Tikush
  2. p. 97
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  1. Stalin’s Portrait
  2. pp. 98-100
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  1. Shock Workers
  2. p. 101
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  1. The Silver Mirror
  2. p. 102
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  1. The Medal
  2. pp. 103-104
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  1. Holiday
  2. p. 105
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  1. Ration Books
  2. pp. 106-107
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  1. A Coin in the Trevi Fountain
  2. pp. 108-109
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  1. La Rinascente
  2. pp. 110-115
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  1. The Balkan Wall
  2. pp. 116-120
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  1. Prayer
  2. pp. 121-122
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  1. Tears
  2. pp. 123-124
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  1. Part Two
  2. p. 125
  1. The Margins of My Father’s Books: The Constantinople Dream, in Search of Lost Time
  2. pp. 127-130
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  1. The Third Exit
  2. pp. 131-132
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  1. The True Path
  2. pp. 133-134
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  1. At a Crossroads in the Labyrinth
  2. pp. 135-138
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  1. Between Constantinople Heaven and Balkan Hell
  2. pp. 139-140
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  1. Mission
  2. pp. 141-142
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  1. The Game of Defeat and Victory
  2. pp. 143-144
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  1. Janissary Fate
  2. pp. 145-147
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  1. The Key of Destiny
  2. pp. 148-150
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  1. The Waves of Illusions
  2. pp. 151-152
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  1. The Debt to Time
  2. pp. 153-154
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  1. Between East and West
  2. pp. 155- 157
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  1. Sea Dream
  2. pp. 158-159
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  1. Holidays in Defeats
  2. p. 160
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  1. Lost
  2. pp. 161-162
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  1. Tattered Fate
  2. pp. 163-166
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  1. Bartering with Fate
  2. pp. 167-169
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  1. The Dream of the Books
  2. pp. 170-172
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  1. The Eastern Sword of Damocles
  2. pp. 173-174
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  1. The Fedora
  2. pp. 175-178
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  1. Time Discovered
  2. pp. 179-182
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  1. Documents I
  2. pp. 183-185
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  1. Documents II
  2. pp. 186-187
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  1. Documents III
  2. pp. 188-189
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  1. The Meaning of the Silence
  2. pp. 190-191
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  1. The Documents (Epilogue)
  2. pp. 192-194
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  1. Perhaps the Real Ending
  2. p. 195
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  1. Borrowed Book
  2. p. 197
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