Built in 1332, St Michael Church was turned into the main mosque of Shtip by 1622, as mentioned by Evliya Çelebi in his Book of Travel. The Ottomans had destroyed its frescoes and added a minaret. When Christians finally reclaimed St Michael centuries later, they knocked off this minaret.
Compared to Serbs, North Macedonians have rounder faces, stockier bodies and darker hair. Although I didn't want to make this observation about North Macedonian women, my friend Alex spoke for me when he said, "Serb women are much more beautiful!"
I noticed this grave because her face was practically Asian, and hours earlier, I had seen an old woman whose face, size and body type were more than 2/3 like a Vietnamese.
As Alex and I were surrounded by at least 40 people in a large, mostly outdoor cafe, I said, "Look, man, everybody here has dark hair!"
On Alex's maternal side, there's a story about a Gypsy family who settled in their village about 150 years ago. Extremely poor, they lived in a makeshift dwelling by the willow tree, next to the river, and made baskets to sell. Still, they starved. Desperate, the man sold three of his five daughters to Slavs, and it's speculated Alex' family ended up with one of these Gypsy women.
Alex, "My mom and aunts insist this story is not true, but my wife is convinced I do have Gypsy blood. She said, "Every time we go to a wedding, you start acting like a Gypsy as soon as the music starts!'"
Born in Vietnam in 1963, I lived mostly in the US from 1975 until 2018, but have returned to Vietnam. I've also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), a novel, Love Like Hate (2010), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), and six collections of poems, with a Collected Poems apparently cancelled by Chax Press from external pressure. I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in Tokyo, London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.