Elizabeth Kostova biography, plus links to book reviews and book excerpts from books by Elizabeth Kostova.

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Elizabeth Kostova

Elizabeth Kostova

Elizabeth Kostova: kos-TOE-va

Elizabeth Kostova Biography

Elizabeth Kostova (née Johnson) was born in New London, Connecticut in 1964, and now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  She graduated from Yale and holds an MFA from the University of Michigan where she won the Hopwood Award for the Novel-in-Progress.  The Historian took her ten years to write, and was inspired by the vampire stories told to her by her father, a professor of urban planning, during the year they spent in Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia (where her father taught at the university) when she was seven, and as they traveled through Europe.

Later, she says, "I wondered whether this would make a good structure for a novel .... At the end of each of these tales, the young listener realizes that Dracula himself is listening to the story. Then I got the chills and immediately began working on the book." When asked about her personal beliefs she confirms that she does not believe in vampires and has a very scientific outlook on life,  However, she does believe in the power of myth in the human psyche.

She says that she based much of the book in Bulgaria because her husband, Georgi Kostov, is Bulgarian.  She met Georgi in 1989 while on a fellowship from Yale to study village music in Eastern Europe. She arrived in Bulgaria at a time of great change - only seven days after Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov had been placed under house arrest;  Georgi was one of the first 100 Bulgarians to be granted a passport.  She traveled to isolated villages in Bulgaria, Bosnia and south-west Russia, not only recording traditional music but also witnessing rituals dating back to the Middle Ages.

She says "Those journeys gave me a sense of a world that's closer to a European past and was preserved by the creation of the Iron Curtain.  It preserved the mystery of Eastern Europe for the rest of us. I tried to express that as a love story, the bridging of these two worlds, east and west. I've realized that there is, of course, a certain autobiographical flavor to it."

Another inspiration for her were the lectures she attended at Yale by Professor, Vincent Scully, "one of the great professors of the twentieth century".  Kostova,  who traveled extensively in Eastern and Western Europe before starting to write The Historian and speaks Bulgarian "pretty well", and used to speak French "quite well, but has got rusty", says "his ardor up on the stage about some of the great architectural and art sights of Western Europe made me go to those places as soon as I could save money from my bookstore job or mowing lawns or whatever I was doing."

The USA book rights for The Historian were sold for $2 million, and it has been or will be published in at least 37 different languages.  Movie rights sold for $1.5 million - the movie, produced by Douglas Wick (Memoirs of a Geisha, Gladiator etc) is currently in production and scheduled for release in 2007.

Her second novel, The Swan Thieves, was published in 2010.

Her favorite books include Middlemarch, and books by Henry James, Thomas Hardy and Wilkie Collins.

Link to Elizabeth's website

This biography was last updated on 02/17/2010.

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Interview

Elizabeth Kostova reads from The Swan Thieves and answers questions in a 45 minute podcast at the Los Angeles Central Library, presented by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.

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Books by this Author

Books by Elizabeth Kostova at BookBrowse

Recommended in Detail at BookBrowse

The Swan Thieves
The Swan Thieves

by Elizabeth Kostova

Kostova's masterful new novel travels from American cities to the coast of Normandy, from the late 19th century to the late 20th, from young love to last love. The Swan Thieves is a story of obsession, history's losses, and the power of art to preserve human hope.
Read More

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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Elizabeth Kostova but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Tracy Chevalier

    Tracy Chevalier

    Tracy Chevalier was born in Washington, DC but has lived in England all her adult life. She now has dual citizenship. She has a BA in English from Oberlin College, Ohio and an MA in creative writing from the University of ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Swan Thieves

    Try:
    Girl With A Pearl Earring
    by Tracy Chevalier

  • Martin Davies

    Martin Davies

    Martin Davies is the author of mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes's housekeeper: Mrs. Hudson and the Spirits' Curse (2004) and Mrs. Hudson and the Malabar Rose (2005); and The Conjurer's Bird (2006). He lives ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Historian

    Try:
    The Conjurer's Bird
    by Martin Davies

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