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
2017 Man Booker International Prize
Published by
Harvill Secker
Publication date