I met Lidija Dimkovska at the Twin Cities Book Festival in October, fleetingly, and completely by accident. I had been staying at a writing residency outside of Red Wing, Minnesota, and after a few weeks of being confined to the work centre, cabin fever set in and I tagged along to the cities with one of the other residents who had a car and a lunch date. I circled the fairgrounds aimlessly for a long time, content and a bit overwhelmed to be among so many books and their people, a stark contrast to having been holed up in my rural accommodations. Finally, looping again to the front of the exposition, one of the name tags on a table caught my eye — Dimkovska’s — and I let out an excited yelp that frightened the woman at the information desk. Dimkovska, who hails from Macedonia (an ex-Yugoslav republic) is an esteemed writer across Europe, the author of several novels and volumes of poetry, and winner of the EU Prize for Literature in 2013. I had just read and loved (and blurbed) her first novel translated into English — A Spare Life, about twin sisters conjoined at the head who serve in part as an allegory for the ex-Yugoslav republics and the bloody separations that came to pass in the civil war. The novel had stuck with me, the weight of it — dense with the minute detail of the twins’ lives, while at the same time encompassing a broader Balkan history with the expansive feeling of myth, or elegy. I watched as she read from her book in English, then spoke passionately about how one could not be alive and apolitical, a reminder particularly prescient given what would happen weeks later as the election results rolled in. I waited for her at the signing table to introduce myself, and Dimkovska, recognising my name, stood and cupped my face in her hands — ‘Sara!’ she exclaimed, and though I was far away from everyone and everything I knew, the trill of her ‘r’ and the light in her eyes made the Minnesota State Fairgrounds feel, for a moment, quite a bit like home. The following interview was conducted by email, after the conclusion of Dimkovska’s book tour in the States.