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Priscilla Morris Books In Order

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Black Butterflies (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Priscilla Morris is a British novelist who is best known for her debut novel “Black Butterflies.”

For most of the year, she can be found living in County Monaghan, Ireland, even though she spends most of her winters in the Spanish region of Catalonia.
She works at University College Dublin where she teaches creative writing and has a master’s and doctoral degree in creative writing from the University of East Anglia.
When she was at Cambridge University, she read Social Anthropology, Spanish, and Italian.

While she was in her early thirties, she lived in Brazil for about three years and this is where she began engaging in some serious writing.

Morris was born to an English father and a Bosnian mother and spent her childhood and young adulthood years in London.

At the time war broke out in the former Yugoslavian republic of Bosnia, she was 19 and most of her mother’s relatives including her grandparents found themselves trapped in a siege in Sarajevo.
She wrote and published “Black Butterflies,” her debut novel seeking to find an understanding of the devastating war between 1992 and 1996, which devastated her mother’s hometown.

The novel has been translated into many languages including French, Catalan, Greek, Spanish, Arabic, Dutch, and Bosnian.

As for her earliest beginnings, Priscila Morris has always wanted to be an author ever since she was six. She loved being read to and reading particularly anything by Roald Dahl such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
She loved reading his works and getting into the fantastic worlds he created and even as an author, this is something she wants other people to experience through her stories.

It took her a long time to begin writing fiction, given that she had a lot of doubts about how capable she was as a writer among other conflicts.

Nonetheless, from the time she was ten years old, she was frantically writing stories in her diaries and this helped her learn her voice.

It was while she was at Cambridge University that she began writing short stories, but Priscilla got into the swing of things when she was in her thirties.
She moved to Brazil where she began teaching English and spent three years in beautiful Rio de Janeiro.

Another positive about Rio is the can-do positive attitude of the people there. This attitude was infectious and it was not long before she got down and started writing and soon fell in love with the process.

Initially, Priscilla Morris began writing a very long children’s poem that was an imaginative piece about the environment. She loved writing the poem but at some point, she acknowledged that no child would ever want to read her poem.
It was at that time that she knew she needed help and applied to the University of East Anglia’s creative writing master’s degree program as a thirty-five-year-old.

This was the turning point, as she started getting some good feedback from other writers and her peers. At this time, she also had the idea for her debut novel “Black Butterflies,” which found inspiration from her family history.
It happened that her mother left Sarajevo her hometown as a nineteen-year-old before the start of the war. When Priscilla was nineteen, the war broke out and suddenly phones went dead and they could not contact their relatives for months.
Every night they would see awful images of snipers shooting ordinary people on the street on the news, even as there were reports of food supplies running out.

For Morris, these images clashed with her memories of the Yugoslavia she used to visit as a child as a place with happy and warm people.

Her mother was of mixed Slovenian, Muslim, and Bosnian Serb heritage and hence seeing everyone fighting each other was incomprehensible and awful.

It was several years later after the war that Priscilla Morris’ mother told her the story of her great uncle that made a living as an artist.

During the siege of Sarajevo, the man lost most of his work in a fire, even though he got away and went on to live in England, where he continued painting.

Her mother told her the story during her grandfather’s funeral and she remembers turning around and seeing a man in colorful clothes who seemed to epitomize resilience.

The man had lost his home, his friends, and everything he knew, and the only thing which kept him going was his work. It was that moment, nondescript as it seemed that sparked in her a desire to write his story.
Many years later, when she had the idea for her debut novel, she modeled her character Zora on her uncle, even if she was younger and female.
As such, her novel was born out of a desire to explore resilience, art, and history but also to understand war to some extent.

“Black Butterflies” by Priscilla Morris is a work set in Sarajevo in 1992 that makes for a harrowing, even if fictional account of the ‘Siege of Sarajevo.”

The story is told from the perspective of Zora Kocovic, a professor and painter who works for the “Academy of Fine Arts” and is trapped in the besieged city.

Less than a tenth of the city is Croat, a quarter is Serb and half is Muslim. Many of the kids in Sarajevo call themselves Yugoslav since a third of the marriages are mixed.

The home of a multi-ethnic populace and for the most part secular, the city was besieged by Bosnian Serb militants, who wanted to ethnically cleanse the Bosnian Muslims out of the city.
During this time, opposing marches were met with widespread violence and sniper attacks which made the city particularly dangerous.

After sending her loved ones off to England, Zora whose family has lived in Sarajevo for years, spends most of her time teaching and painting her favorite landscapes and bridges, while she hopes for better days.
But then the situation gets worse and she cannot leave. She is all alone with the only people around being the students and neighbors, who provide a little measure of support and comfort.
They have to deal with no water, no heat, no electricity, and food shortages amid sniper bullets and mortar fire as the city is destroyed all around them.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Priscilla Morris

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