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De nis der schande : roman by Ismail Kadare
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De nis der schande : roman

by Ismail Kadare

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Ismail Kadare (b.1936) is one of my favourite authors: he writes stories about the use and abuse of power in allegorical form, setting his stories in an indefinite past so that they have a timeless significance. The Traitor’s Niche is an early work from his Ottoman Cycle: first published in 1978, it was Kadare’s eleventh novel but it has taken 40 years for it to be published in English. Kadare is a prolific author and it is taking the Anglosphere a while to catch up with his oeuvre since he won the inaugural Man Booker International in 2005, when The Siege (see my review on my blog) and other novels were hastily translated from French editions into English in order to get them into bookshops.

The Traitor’s Niche has been widely reviewed, not least by the members of the MBIF Shadow Jury (see their combined reviews from here on this blog) but it didn’t make it into either their shortlist or the official one. But I was always going to read this novel, whether it won any plaudits or not… Kadare is a master storyteller and I am fascinated by the history of Albania as he tells it…

The Traitor’s Niche is set in Constantinople (now Istanbul) when it was the capital of the Ottoman Empire. This is where power resides, power that is enforced through brutal repression and grotesque propaganda. The sultan displays the severed heads of any who dare to betray him in a special niche in the city square, and there is a whole apparatus of flunkies whose job it is to manage the display of heads for the entertainment and edification of the people.

Far, far away, so remote from the sultan’s decrees that most of them can be ignored, is Albania, powerless against the Empire but a place given to rash attempts to free itself. In his dotage, Ali Pasha Tepelena a.k.a.Black Ali Pasha, dreams of achieving glory like his legendary predecessor Scanderbeg who had a quarter-century of rebellion behind him but died an ordinary death in his bed. There is no prospect of him succeeding, but it’s not about that. Black Ali wants to leave a legacy and a symbol that will inspire others. So, will he cheat the sultan of his vicious vengeance?

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2017/06/07/the-traitors-niche-by-ismail-kadare-translated-by-john-hodgson/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jun 6, 2017 |
Fascinating, mesmerizing surreal novel that held my interest every page. The author has returned to the main theme of most of his oeuvre: struggles of his native Albania against an oppressive power. This time the novel is set in the post-Napoleonic years and those of Greece for her independence--1820s. In this case the novel is an allegory with the Ottoman Empire representing the brutal Albanian dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. It is the story of several men and their fates: Abdulla, the Keeper of the Heads--Dulla was a nickname of Enver Hoxha--; the three Pashas who have run afoul of the government in some way and have been beheaded: Ali, by rebelling; Bugrahan, by losing battles to Ali; Hurshid, who wins the war, but becomes too popular for his own good; and Hata, the courier who delivers each head to the sultan after exhibiting it to villagers along the way. The author describes "Caw-Caw", the complete obliteration of an entire people's culture, customs, and language and of "Psst-Psst", the secret police investigating rumors. All in all, a chilling indictment of tyranny. 4.5/5.

Highly recommended and just as current today as when it was first written, in 1984.

Highly recommended and just as current today as when it was first written, in 1984. ( )
  janerawoof | May 15, 2017 |
De l'Albanie à Constantinople: l'épopée de la tête d'Ali, gouverneur rebelle d'Albanie, décapité. Roman centré sur un épisode sanguinaire de l'occupation ottomane en Albanie, au début du 19e siècle (1822). Selon le spécialiste Eric Faye, un des chefs-d'oeuvre de l'auteur.
  PierreYvesMERCIER | Feb 19, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ismail Kadareprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hodgson, JohnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kooy, Henne van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zwart, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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