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The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen

The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen: Travels with My Grandmother’s Ashes

Krissy Kneen

In her 2010 memoir, Affection, Krissy Kneen introduced readers to her unique family and the towering matriarchal figure of her grandmother. Stern, domineering, fiercely loving, Lotty Kneen—born Dragica—was always tight-lipped about her early life and family history. She rebuffed Krissy’s curiosity and forbade her from taking the trip back to the old country that might have satisfied it.

When her grandmother died recently, Krissy finally felt at liberty to explore the questions that had nagged at her for so long. In The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen Krissy sets out with a box containing her grandmother’s ashes, intending to trace the old woman’s early life in Slovenia and Egypt, and perhaps locate some remnants of family. Along the way she uncovers the extraordinary story of the colony of Slovene women who became the nannies of choice for the wealthy Italians of pre-war Alexandria—and identifies as best she can the places where Lotty’s restless, demanding spirit will be at peace.

Video © Anthony Mullins, 2021


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Krissy Kneen
About the Author

Krissy Kneen is the award-winning author of memoir—Affection—and fiction: An Uncertain Grace, Steeplechase, Triptych, The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine, Wintering, as well as the Thomas Shapcott Award-winning poetry collection Eating My Grandmother. They have written and directed broadcast documentaries for SBS and ABC...

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4 May 2021
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Praise for Krissy Kneen
andThe Three Burials of Lotty Kneen

‘A spellbinding odyssey of identity, heartbreaking and deeply human.’

‘Compelling, tender and unforgettable.’

‘The best book I have read in years. I believe it is Krissy Kneen’s masterpiece – I loved every word.’

‘A moving meditation on identity and exile, the pull of blood and belonging. A hymn to the lost histories in us all.’

‘Weaving history, travelogue, myth and self-reflection, The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen is a courageous and moving quest into the very essence of Kneen’s identity.’

‘What Kneen manages to do, as does Atwood, or even Murakami, is make her narrative worlds, wherever they lead, seamless and seductive.’

‘This is an evocative and poignant exploration of memory and a fitting tribute to a cherished family member.’

The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen is a generous, full-hearted, poetic attempt to understand the way we carry our ancestors within us, and how we might better know ourselves through knowing them.’

‘An extraordinary tale…A paean to the enduring power of Lotty Kneen…who passed on the gift of storytelling to her granddaughter.’

‘Compelling and beautifully written. A road map filled with many women’s voices, recipes and memories.’

‘This story soars far and wide between remote Australia, mid-century Egypt, and modern-day Slovenia; it is a generous and joyfully spirited adventure which embraces embellishment, fantasy, and uncertainty. While pulling at threads of genetic history, Kneen accepts this can only ever be incomplete.’

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