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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 outcastseven by their own familythe 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.
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.