Ervehe. A book about a mother is the eighth novel of the Balkan saga by a Albanian-Macedonian writer Luan Starova. It is a lyrical and meditative, but prolonged epic narrative about a repeated exile which extends through several generations while its diffuse nature permanently marks the lives of several generations of one family.

Title of the novel bears the name of the main heroine, the narrator’s mother Ervehe. In the forties, a young Albanian family is forced to leave the country and across the Ohrid Lake to get to "the shore of exile" in Macedonia. The border that they are crossing is, at that time, not only the most impenetrable one in the Balkans and in Europe, but it is the line that has the fate of the narrator’s family cut in two. In the eternal exile towards Europe, but also towards themselves, in the dichotomy of expectation of a return and the idea of the West, Mother is the only steadfast, immovable pillar which, as she says, remains there to maintain the family alive.

The inevitable chronotype of this this substantially autobiographical storytelling, represents the Balkans where the certainty of persecution has a chronic character and duration. Starova’s novel is not just a novel about a mother, nor is it a novel about a mother in general. It is rather a painful hermeneutics of an experienced exodus, of raw impenetrable borders, stolen time, trapped hope and potential of one family.


Luan Starova (Pogradec, Albania, 1941) lives in Macedonia since 1943 (first in Struga, then in Skopje). In school he learned Macedonian, and he graduated French language and literature. Later in 1974, after a master's degree and a doctorate in Zagreb, he specialized on modern French literature in the Sorbonne in Paris, and continued his career as a university professor at the Faculty of Philology in Skopje. He was an ambassador of Yugoslavia in Tunisia and in Palestine, the first Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia in France, a Permanent Representative to UNESCO and non-resident ambassador to Spain and Portugal.

Starova writtes in Macedonian, Albanian and French, and he got the attention of national and international literary and cultural public eye in 1992, by publishing the novel My Father's books, which will become the basis for the series of cyclical novel that the author published under the title Balkan saga. There are twelve novels published of the cycle for which he was awarded with "Marguerite Yourcenar" and the Medal of the Association of writers who write in French, as well as France's highest honor, the Order of the Legion of Honor - Knight of Arts and Literature. Other mentionable novels of the saga are: The Balkan Key (1995), The Way of the Eels (2000), The Ash Fortress (2003), Ervehe. A book about a mother (2005), The General's Love (2008).

As a highly traduced writer, Starova is known to the Croatian audience though the translation of Mate Maras (The Time of the Goats, Znanje, 2000).

  • ISBN: 978-953-8075-26-1
  • Dimensions: 135x210 mm
  • Number of pages: 292
  • Cover: paperback
  • Year of the edition: 2017
  • Original title: Ervehe. Kniga za edna majka
  • Original language: Macedonian
  • Translation: Željka Demnieva, Spomenka Demnieva

"It is with excitement and great emotion that France is rdiscovering Luan Starova as a writer, an exceptional and unique novelist who is deeply rooted in the Balkan world, very poetically expressed in his experiences …"

Edgar Morin


"Luan Storiva continues the construction of the Balkan saga that is already a part of the great European novel …"

Livres Hebdo, May 8, 2014.


"This book is a true success. The Balkans is presented in its long periods of inertia, followed by a sudden acceleration, with issues of identity and the crucifixion between the East and West ... "

Joséphine Dedet

"Since the arrangement of books inside a library is among important themes in Starova’s work, one could compare his novels to those of Kadare and Kiš. This author orients himself in the Balkan space and time with the same ease as Kadare, and shares the size of the most exciting homage to the Father with Danilo Kiš. "
Eric Naulleau