Elizabeth Gowing: What the Rubbish-Picker’s Wife taught me!
Elizabeth is an author of many books but the “Rubbish-Picker’s Wife” is not a usual book. In fact it has been much more, not only for her as a writer, but also for her main character, Heteme, who is now probably the most famous real character in Kosovo. Elizabeth has been sharing the lives of the Ashkali of Fushe Kosove over the past five years and she tells us that it has been a very intense experience.
The book describes the intimate impact it’s had on her, educating her about birth control, infesting her with head lice, giving her experiences of birth and death and sickness and weddings, and lives changing through the doors that education opens, or the doors that early marriage slams shut. It’s been an inspiration for her to see the resilience and energy of people with so little, not just materially, but in terms of education or opportunities. Those things all helped her to put the minor inconveniences of her comparatively luxurious life into perspective and as she confirms: “I prioritise better now, feeling that I have improved at identifying what really matters”.
This interview doesn’t tell a novel but a real story and the impact it brought to her, her character and the readers.