The Purchased Bride
By Peter Constantine
Deep Vellum Publishing (April 4, 2023)
About The Project
“The Purchased Bride is the work of a master. You will find it hard to believe it is a debut—and then remember that Peter Constantine has spent his life translating the world’s greatest authors. To twist a line from the novel: 'Everything he touches turns good, under every hair he finds a jewel."
–Carmen Boullosa, author of The Book of Eve
Based on a true story set in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, The Purchased Bride tells the tale of Maria, a Greek girl who was bought when she was fifteen by a much older, wealthy Ottoman man.
As the Ottoman Empire falls and insurgents torch their Greek village in the Caucasus, Maria and her parents flee and find shelter in a refugee camp across the border in Ottoman territory. Cholera and plague are impending, and the priest running the camp takes a desperate measure, arranging to marry Maria off to a wealthy Ottoman Turk in the capital.
She and her best friend, Lita, then travel toward the Black Sea coast through a fascinating world of ancient and forgotten Ottoman mountain communities. They encounter escalating violence, sniper attacks, and marauding troops amid the Empire’s collapse, as breakaway provinces declare themselves independent caliphates in defiance of the Sultan. And when Lita escapes, Maria is left to face her fate alone.
A story of war, struggle, and ultimate success, based on the life of Constantine’s grandmother, The Purchased Bride sheds light on a turbulent and dangerous part of history.
About the Author
Peter Constantine is a literary translator and editor, and the director of the Literary Translation Program at the University of Connecticut. His recent translations, published by Random House (Modern Library), include The Essential Writings of Rousseau, The Essential Writings of Machiavelli, and works by Tolstoy, Gogol, and Voltaire. His translation of the complete works of Isaac Babel received the Koret Jewish Literature Award and a National Jewish Book Award citation. A Guggenheim Fellow, he was awarded the PEN Translation Prize for Six Early Stories by Thomas Mann, and the National Translation Award for The Undiscovered Chekhov. This is his first novel.