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  • Published: 16 March 2021
  • ISBN: 9781784709327
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • RRP: $19.99

The Doll




From the winner of the first-ever Man Booker International Prize: a novel about creative origin and aspiration, inspired by Ismail Kadare's childhood in Albania.

From the winner of the first ever Man Booker International Prize: 'a novelist of dazzling mastery' (Independent) about a mother as naïve and fragile as a paper doll.

At the centre of young Ismail's world is the unknowable figure of his mother. Delicate 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

  • Published: 16 March 2021
  • ISBN: 9781784709327
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160
  • RRP: $19.99

About the author

Ismail Kadare

Ismail Kadare is Albania’s best-known novelist and poet. Translations of his novels have appeared in more than forty countries. He was awarded the inaugural Man Booker International Prize in 2005, and the Jerusalem Prize in 2015.

Also by Ismail Kadare

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Praise for The Doll

An essential work. The Doll is mesmerising, and like Kadare’s family home conceals both darkness and flashes of light in its interior

Nilanjana Roy, Financial Times

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.

John Burnside, Guardian

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

Melanie McDonagh, Evening Standard

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.

Boyd Tonkin, Spectator

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.

Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

An evocative, captivating story. Every word of this short book is there for a reason. The considered, precise language (translator John Hodgson has done a fine job) leads smoothly through various – no doubt carefully selected – life events with The Doll being the thread which holds it all together... It’s a category-defying feat of literary engineering by a writer who is totally in control.

Bookmunch

A master storyteller

John Carey

[A] coldly brilliant novel

Kevin Brazil, Times Literary Supplement

A novelist of dazzling mastery

Paul Binding, Independent

One of the world's greatest living writers

Simon Sebag Montefiore

He has been compared to Gogol, Kafka and Orwell. But Kadare's is an original voice, universal yet deeply rooted in his owl soil

Independent on Sunday

Kadare's fiction evades ideologies, escaping into richer realms of the past, of myth, folklore and dystopian fantasy

Spectator

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