Published in April 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
Tipped to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, Ismail Kadare, the Albanian novelist, shares with past winners a background of life in a repressive regime—in his case the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha, under which Kadare’s fiction tended by necessity towards allegory. Although he defected in 1990, just before the collapse of Communist rule five years after Hoxha’s death, riddling indirection remains his favoured mode.
His latest novel to appear in English is dedicated to “the young Albanian women who… spent their youth in internal exile.” It follows a writer in Tirana summoned for questioning late in the Hoxha era. He’s unsure if it’s because of his new play or because the young student he’s been sleeping with has vanished—he doesn’t expect to learn that the student was acting as a surrogate lover for a schoolfriend, Linda, forced to live under curfew in the provinces on account of her link to Albania’s ousted royal family.