Feature Book by Stela Brinzeanu

Bessarabian Nights

Bessarabian Nights


During a night out whilst on holiday in Milan, Ksenia is drugged and abducted by a trafficking gang who force her into prostitution. When Ksenia’s best friends, Larisa and Doina, hear she is missing, they vow to find her, no matter what.

The three girls’ friendship goes back to early childhood, growing up together in a rural village in Moldova. As girls they were inseparable, but following an incident with the village voodoo witch, Larisa leaves for the UK, full of resentment for her home country and branding her people superstitious, old-fashioned and fatalistic. Doina later joins her in the UK, searching for a better-paid job in order to help support her paralyzed brother. As the Moldovan police give up looking for Ksenia, her best friends travel back and forth from Italy to Moldova to continue the hunt. While Larisa searches high and low, she witnesses first-hand the misery of her own people abroad and their struggle to survive in an alien world.

The girls’ persistence, love and dedication eventually pays off and, two long years after her abduction, Ksenia is rescued from her trafficking ordeal and repatriated to Moldova. However, she faces further hard times as her family and community fail to support her rehabilitation process. Their lack of empathy for her traumatic past leads her to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, sent to an asylum, and then taken to a monastery to help unburden her of her inner demons. Tragedy soon strikes the trio, and those left in the wake of the unthinkable must re-appraise their views on culture and identity, and of Moldova itself, before making life changing decisions in order to move forward with their lives. Bessarabian Nights is the powerful debut novel from Stela Brinzeanu. Narrated from the perspective of the ghost of the country, the novel offers a unique angle on the culture clash between East and West, giving critical insight into the culture of Moldova, the author’s home country and a place that is as fascinating as it is disturbing. Moldova, despite being the gateway to modern Europe, is still mired in medieval superstition, where ingrained customs and irrational beliefs can make or break someone’s day and an unyielding fatalism dictates destinies. Bessarabian Nights probes issues which bedevil contemporary Moldova, a country largely ignored by Western media. The book incorporates powerful themes of identity crisis, displacement and insanity. First and foremost, Brinzeanu hopes to shed light on Moldova’s plight of human trafficking.

About the Author, Stela Brinzeanu

Susan FroetschelStela Brinzeanu is a debut author from Moldova. She has lived in the UK for over a decade, following a decision to escape the stifling environment of her home country, where superstitious and predetermined attitudes are rife. Brinzeanu conducted extensive research in order to write Bessarabian Nights, and traveled back to her home country to speak with many women who have lived the nightmare of being forced into human trafficking and prostitution. Brinzeanu is currently working on her second novel and lives in Walthamstow, in North East London. Bessarabian Nights by Stela Brinzeanu (published by Lightning Source, RRP $15.00 paperback, RRP $6.99 eBook) is available from 20th March 2014





An Interview With Stela Brinzeanu

Q: Stela, welcome to The Women's Book Reviews!  Why the title Bessarabian Nights?

A: Most of the book is set in the Republic of Moldova, which historically is also known as Bessarabia. I chose a wordplay on the ‘Arabian Nights’. However, unlike the collection of fairy tales, my book is a story based on real life characters and events exploring issues besetting contemporary Moldova. Its plot rests on modern topics such as economic migration, the East/West culture-clash & human trafficking - all given life and flavour by the tumultuous human stories which form the heartbeat of the novel.

Q: What was the inspiration behind the book?

A: It goes back to when I was a teenager in a small village in Moldova. A young woman who had disappeared for about three years returned home one day. But she wasn’t the same happy and lively girl everyone knew. People gossiped, accusing her of having been a prostitute abroad. Her own mother – the only parent and an alcoholic – was her daughter’s biggest critic. The girl isolated herself and took refuge in religion. The incident left a deep mark on me and along the years I often thought about this ostracised young woman. When the time came to write the book, that long ago memory was the first thing my subconscious pushed forth.

Q: What did you learn writing this book?

A: The most shocking fact was to find out that most of the recruiters for the those victims of trafficking were women themselves. The second, no less appalling, was that they were sold into prostitution by people they knew: friends, boyfriends, godparents.

Q: What are your hopes with Bessarabian Nights?

A: Not only to expose the phenomenon of human trafficking but also to explore the internal, social and cultural factors which contribute to its propagation. I would like to generate a debate as to how much the patriarchal mentality of the country, the superstitious culture and fatalistic attitude of the people contribute to this type of modern slavery and its detriment to an entire nation. If the book raises enough awareness to save one victim then its job is done.

Q: What next?

A: The sexual exploitation of women is only one side of the coin. I am now working on a second book which will deal with the other side – the sexual exploitation of men by women – another widespread occurrence with the East to West migration.

Thank you for having me on the Women’s Book Reviews!


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