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Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Traitors Head (2019) by Ismail Kadare


Book Review
The Traitors Head (2019)
by Ismail Kadare

   This 2017 nominee for the Man Booker International Prize finally got an American release in June of this year, allowing me to pick up the Ebook from the library after only a couple months on the waiting list. (Not a huge number of Ismail Kadare fans in the Los Angeles Public Library system?)
Ismail Kadare is THE Albanian author to read if you are going to read one Albanian novelist, and he's got a great reputation in France.  Also, he's the kind of writer the New York Times calls a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature.   Seems like a long to medium shot to me, and he's generally in the same category as Ohman Pamuk  (2006 winner).   Or I guess you could call him a Balkan writer- which hasn't produced a winner since 1961. 

  The Traitors head is historical fiction, set in the time of the Ottoman Empire, and it is quite literally about the head of a traitor having his head transported to the so-called traitor's niche in Istanbul, where the head's of traitors are displayed and maintained by a doctor so the public can bear witness.   Like many of Kadare's books, the characters- there are maybe a dozen different narrators, are obsessed with power, and Albania's relationship to power. 

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