Luan Starova was born in Pogradec, an Albanian town on Lake Ohrid, in 1941. His family had legal and scholarly background: his grandfather on the father's side had served as an Ottoman judge (qadi) in Prilep, before retiring and emigrating to Turkey; his father earned a law degree in Istanbul, and was a lawyer and a scholar.
In 1943, when Luan was a small child, his family fled the Italy-occupied Albania to (also occupied) Macedonia. They first settled in Struga, at the opposite end of Lake Ohrid from Pogradec, and later moved to Skopje.
He grew up in Tito's Yugoslavia, and studied French language and literature at Skopje University (1960–1967). After graduation, he worked as a journalist, becoming in 1968 the editor of Albanian programming on Television Skopje. However, in the same year he left for Zagreb to start his postgraduate studies Zagreb University. He earned a master's degree with a thesis on The Balkans in the Prose of Guillaume Apollinaire. When working for his doctoral degree in French and comparative literature (awarded 1978), he spent some time at Sorbonne, collecting materials on the collaboration of Apollinaire and the Albanian scholar and writer Faik Konica. Later, he was to edit a book about these two writers.
Luan Starova worked as a professor of French literature at Skopje University, eventually serving as the chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literature.
Since 1985, Starova also worked on a number of diplomatic posts in various European and Arab countries. After Republic of Macedonia became an independent state, Luan Starova was appointed as his country's first ambassador to France (1994); later he also served as the ambassador to Spain (1996) and Portugal.
Luan Starova started writing novels in 1971. Several of Luan Starova's novels published since 1992 form the so-called "Balkan Saga", where he explores the destinies of the people on both sides of the Albania-Macedonia border under three "Empires" - the Ottoman, the Fascist, and the Stalinist - through the story of his family.
Luan Starova is also known as a translator of French literary works (e.g., poetry by André Frénaud (fr)) into both Albanian and Macedonian.
Since 1972, Luan Starova participated in the organization of the annual Struga Poetry Evenings.
Luan Starova's father, Arif Starova, who in his youth earned a law degree in Istanbul, worked as a lawyer in both Albania and Macedonia. An ardent bibliophile and amateur historian, he joined the staff of the National History Institute in Skopje, where he was able to use his knowledge of Ottoman Turkish to translate Ottoman-era documents. After his retirement, he continued as an independent researcher. He put much effort into deciphering, studying, and translating records of the Bitola qadi's court from the 15th through 19th centuries. The theme of "my Father's books" often appears in Luan Starova's work.
Luan Starova's older brother, Vulnet Starova (Вулнет Старова; 1934–1995), was a doctor and politician. He served as the Speaker of the People's Assembly of Macedonia in 1986–1991.Луѓе и мостови (1971) (People and Bridges)
Kutijtë e pranvëres (1971) (The Boundaries of Spring)
Barikadat e kohës (1976) (The Barricades of Time)
Доближувања (1977) (Approaches)
Релации (1982) (Relations)
Кинеска пролет (1984) (Chinese Spring)
Пријатели (1986) (Friends)
Континуитети (1988) (Continuities)
Митска птица (1991) (Mythic Bird)
Песни од Картагина (1991) (Songs from Carthage)
Мостот на љубовта (1992) (The Bridge of Love)
Татковите книги (1993) (My Father's Books)
Време на козите (1993) (The Time of the Goats; a small extract is translated as The Goat Age)
Балкански клуч (1995) (The Balkan Key)
Француски книжевни студии - 20 век (1995) (French literary studies: the 20th century)
Атеистички музеј (1997) (The Museum of Atheism)
Пресадена земја (1998) (The transplanted land)
Патот на јагулите (2000) (The Path of the Eels)
Two of Luan Starova's novels from the Balkan Saga cycle (My Father's Books and The Time of the Goats) have been published in English translation, translated by Christina E. Kramer. In 2014, she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant to fund her work on translating another novel from this cycle, The Path of the Eels (possibly under an English title Pyramid of Water). This was the first time ever a NEA grant was awarded to support a translation from Macedonian to English.