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What Is She Doing Here?
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What Is She Doing Here?

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  115 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
"What Is She Doing Here?" is a memoir of the five years the poet Kate Clanchy spent living closely with Antigona, a Kosovan refugee. Antigona becomes her project, her protegee, her cleaner, her nanny, and slowly, through hours of conversation and negotiations of difference, her friend.

Through the story of the women's growing understanding is woven the dramatic tale of Anti
Hardcover, 300 pages
Published May 30th 2008 by Picador USA
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Sep 19, 2009 Charlotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kate Clanchy's memoir of her friendship with Antigona examines what happens when the expectations and experiences of a North London poet collide with those of a Kossovan Albanian woman who is newly arrived in the UK. Antigona is everything the Daily Mail hates: an asylum-seeker (and, moreover, one who may not have been truthful in her asylum claim), a cash-in-hand worker who evades taxes and uses a false identity, a single mother. Kate is struck immediately by the force of Antigona's character, ...more
Helen (Helena/Nell)
Jul 20, 2013 Helen (Helena/Nell) rated it it was amazing
I bought this from the library sale bookshelf. I try not to buy books there because I have too many books already unread. But this is a book by a poet, and although the cover was a bit off putting, the first page wasn't.

I read from start to finish over three or four days. Each time I had to stop reading, I didn't want to put the book down. And yet, there isn't a clear narrative line that draws you through: there are several stories, anecdotes and events, all of which develop and enrich the centr
Jennifer Russell
I was completely blown away by this book. Kate Clanchy becomes the employer of a woman who for privacy purposes she calls 'Antigona'. All I can say is 'read this book'. It will make you think, it will challenge your preconceptions and it will educate you - while being an entertaining and compelling true life story.
Kate Clanchy is already a highly respected poet, and this work shows her ability to write wonderful prose. I look forward to what she does next.
A massively moving book detailing the relationship between two women, the author, a middle class poet living in an expensive house in London, and her maid, a Kosovan refugee escaping an abusive husband as well as a war-torn country. The story bare as bones would be interesting enough, but Clanchy adds to it other dimensions, not least feminist perspectives and middle class guilt. Her account of the relationship is deeply introspective and arguably overly critical on her side, but it is honest, d ...more
Mar 09, 2009 ricoeurian rated it it was amazing
Simply superb telling of the meeting of women from two different cultures. Kate Clanchy's exploration of her cleaner/nanny/friend/sister's experience of being an illegal refugee immigrant in the UK is striking. The writing is so good - warm, friendly, and immediate in tone, Clanchy manages to bring humour to some pretty dire circumstances. The strength of the book is that it is not just a sad tale of refugees but also an intelligent analysis of how we (me) live as white, middle class Brits in th ...more
Jan 28, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and intriguing account of the author's relationship with Kosovan refugee, Antigona, and her family. Employing Antigona as a cleaner and then nanny, Kate Clanchy helps her to settle in to life in the UK while at the same time recounting Antigona's tale of the horrors she suffered in her homeland and during her escape. Gives a whole new perspective to refugees/asylum seekers and is very readable - 8/10.
Nic Brisbourne
Jul 23, 2011 Nic Brisbourne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Powerful book this. Gets to the heart of the challenges of being a middle class woman and mum in 21st century Britain. By contrast with life from rural Kosovo Clanchy shows the much of what has been gained and lost with the progress in our society - with an emphasis on the gain. It is also a reminder of the power of honour, respect and duty in Kosovo and for Kosovans, and by extension other similarly developed countries.
Mar 16, 2010 Michele rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
read this after hearing it recommended on BBC Radio4's A Good Read, there titled Antigona and Me( Paperback version). This programme has been the source of many a thought provoking read and this can be added to that list. Well written account with interesting discussion of female liberation and supression and cultural norms.
Helen Moyes
A personal narrative of the relationship between two young mothers in London. One a teacher and writer, the other a Kosovo refugee. I learnt loads and was also moved by the contrast of modern life for these two women, who form an unlikely friendship and support each other.
Motherhood and culture form the two main themes described in a mostly readable biography.
some of the subject matter is quite difficult and upsetting. However, with recent election chit chat about immigrants etc it is very topical and i learnt some things not only about our system here but about the Kosovan people themselves (and how they behave etc in this country and their own)
I'm glad I read this because it opened my eyes in realising that my family could be in a much worse country than they already are- and to see how their country is heading and the consequences of this ridiculous idea called communism.
Feb 19, 2010 Cathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cathy by: A book exchange on our recent trip
It took me awhile to get into this book, but at the end I couldn't put it down. The subject matter should be depressing, but the author shows us strength instead of horror.
Mar 26, 2011 Tracey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed it. Interesting to read about a refugee living in Britain and all the background that brings them here.
Sep 14, 2014 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moving tale of friendship across cultures.
Rebecca Rouillard
Apr 08, 2013 Rebecca Rouillard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really thoughtful, nuanced account of writer, Kate Clanchy's relationship with her Kosovar cleaner/nanny/friend Antigona and her family.
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Kate Clanchy was educated in Edinburgh and Oxford University. She lived in London's East End for several years, before moving to Buckinghamshire where she now works as a teacher, journalist and freelance writer. Her poetry and seven radio plays have been broadcast by BBC Radio. She is a regular contributor to The Guardian newspaper; her work appeared in The Scotsman, the New Statesman and Poetry R ...more
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