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This is the first novel I’ve read by Albanian writer, Ismail Kadare. It was an excellent introduction to the winner of the first Man Booker International prize (2005). Originally published in Albania in 1980, translated into French in 1986, with an English translation following in 1988 – at this time called Doruntine. Canongate’s new edition is an updated translation, which features text which, previously, had been too sensitive to include.
The novel itself, a relatively short one, on one level is an Albanian folk story (The Ballad of Constantine and Doruntine) which has been re-imagined as a medieval police thriller. The story it’s based upon is relatively simple: a dead son, who had promised his mother that he would bring her daughter home to her on her death bed, rises from the grave to fulfil his promise, his obligation to his mother.
Beyond this, however, is a…
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