Ismail Kadare conjures up a surreal tale of tyranny and rebellion, in a Kafkaesque land where languages are banned and memories extinguished. Translated by John Hodgson.

At the heart of the Ottoman Empire, in the main square of Constantinople, a niche is carved into ancient stone. Here, crowds flock to see the severed heads of the sultan’s adversaries. Tundj Hata is charged with transporting heads to the capital, a task he relishes, and one that makes him money from illicit sideshows of death. Gossip is growing about the province of Albania’s demands for independence. The rebellious governor’s head would fetch a high price. And the niche awaits a new trophy…

Longlisted
The Man Booker International Prize 2017
Published by
Harvill Secker
Publication date
 Ismail Kadare

Ismail Kadare

About the Author

Ismail Kadare, born in 1936 in Albania, was the country’s best-known poet and novelist
More about Ismail Kadare
John Hodgson

John Hodgson

About the Translator

John Hodgson, who was born in 1951, taught at the Universities of Pristina and Tirana after studying English literature at Cambridge and Newcastle.
More about John Hodgson

Other nominated books by Ismail Kadare

Book cover of A Dictator Calls by Ismail Kadare depicting a portrait of Stalin painted in red.

Other nominated books by John Hodgson

Book cover of A Dictator Calls by Ismail Kadare depicting a portrait of Stalin painted in red.