Anna Rossi, the protagonist of the coming-of-age novel, Anna’s Dance: A Balkan Odyssey, is a twenty-three-year-old mostly Jewish-American girl alienated from her roots and fearful of intimacy. On an impromptu journey through the Balkans, an area whose history and culture attracts her as a kind of mirror of her own, she meets others who share with her a past of external prejudice and internal suffering. Forced to confront directly what results when nations suppress their minorities, Anna learns that ugly stereotypes can distort one’s sense of self and heritage, and that anger and frustration can lead to ethno-nationalism and violence.
Set in 1968, when world-wide protests raged against repressive regimes and powerful majorities, Anna’s odyssey highlights antisemitism and the Holocaust in America and the Balkans as it immerses her in the pain of other ethnicities, opens her to love and loss, and helps her find meaning, a purpose, and her own place in the world. In Istanbul’s oldest synagogue, she proudly embraces her Jewish identity.
Steeped in American, Jewish, and Balkan history, Anna’s Dance links the marginalized, among them Jews, African Americans, Armenians, and the various Balkan peoples–while exploring concerns that plague us still, both here at home and globally.