Author(s): John Hodgson (Translator); Ismail Kadare
From the winner of the first-ever Man Booker International Prize: 'a novelist of dazzling mastery' (Independent)
She surrendered the freedom and authority of a mother, in short, turned herself into a doll, to give me all possible liberty as a human being, in a world where freedom was so rare and hard to find, like crusts of rationed bread, which she broke off from her own small portion and secretly gave to me.
At the centre of young Ismail's world is the enigmatic figure of his mother, the Doll: naïve and unchanging,she appears lost in her husband's great stone house and is constantly at odds with her wise and thin-lipped mother-in-law. As her son grows, his writing career flourishes; he uses words she doesn't understand, publishes radical poetry and falls in love outside of marriage. Ismail seems to be renouncing everything his mother embodies of old-world Gjirokastra. Most of all, the Doll fears that one day her intellectual, free-thinking son will exchange her for a better mother.
In this singular, autobiographical novel, dedicated to the memory of his mother, internationally celebrated writer Ismail Kadare circles back to his childhood in Communist-era Albania and to his first aspirations to write a novel.
The Doll is a delicate and disarming tale of home and creative longing, of personal and political freedom, told in haunting, lyrical prose.