From the winner of the first ever Man Booker International Prize: 'a novelist of dazzling mastery' (Independent)
At the centre of young Ismail’s world is the unknowable figure of his mother. Naïve and fragile as a paper doll, she is an unlikely presence in her husband’s great stone house, with its hidden rooms and infamous dungeon, and is constantly at odds with her wise and thin-lipped mother-in-law. But despite her lightness and unchanging youthful nature, she is not without her own enigmas.
Most of all, she fears that her intellectual son – who uses words she doesn’t understand, publishes radical poetry, falls in love freely and seems to be renouncing everything she embodies of the old world – will have to exchange her for a superior mother when he becomes a famous writer.
Dedicated to the memory of his mother and circling back to his childhood in Albania, The Doll is Ismail Kadare’s delicate and disarming tale of home and creative longing, of writerly aspiration, and of personal and political freedom.
'[A] fascinating study of a difficult love' John Burnside
'Mesmerising' Financial Times
An essential work. The Doll is mesmerising, and like Kadare’s family home conceals both darkness and flashes of light in its interior
The poignant observation, bitter irony and misspoken fear running through the narrator’s central relationship with his mother, a woman secretly terrified of being disowned as unworthy the moment her son achieves the fame he so desires, are what dominate this fascinating study of a difficult love.
In a properly ordered world, Ismail Kadare would by now have got the Nobel prize for literature. By any reckoning, he is one of the most important living European writers, a man whose work is as compelling as any novelist to have emerged from the vanished world that was the Communist bloc
Laconic, sinister and drily funny... Miss this fatalistic, deadpan wit, well served in John Hodgson’s nicely crafted translation, and you miss something essential in Kadare.
Albania's greatest living novelist has invariably explored his country’s repressive political legacy in his strange and brilliant novels... [The Doll] can only enrich our understanding and appreciation of Kadare’s writing.