Olja Knežević was born in Podgorica, Montenegro, and presently resides in Zagreb, Croatia. She has worked as an interpreter, a journalist and an English news editor aboard the Radio Ship, an independent radio station located in the international waters of the Adriatic Sea during the 1990s and the war in ex-Yugoslavia; a project manager’s assistant for Danish Refugee Council in Montenegro; a professor of English Language and Literature; and a translator for poetry and prose. In 2008 she completed her MA in creative writing at Birkbeck College, and was the recipient of Overall Prize for best dissertation of 2007/2008. That dissertation was to become her first novel, Milena & Other Social Reforms, initially written in English, then translated and published in 2011 in Montenegro. In 2009 her short story The Classroom was published in FREEDOM, Amnesty International’s anthology of short stories based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She is the author of about eighty stories and columns published in various literary magazines and supplements, the best of which were collected and published in 2013, in a book titled London & Stories of the South. Her other novels include Mrs Black (2015) and Catherine the Great and the Small, 2019 winner of the prestigious VBZ Literary Award for best novel written in the Croatian, Montenegrian, Serbian or Bosnian language.
Catherine's trajectory in life is accompanied by failures in love, family traumas and an incredible romance with handsome Siniša. The novel takes us through turbulent times in the Balkan region, from the eighties to the present day...