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10 thoughts on “Kamarja e turpit

  1. Jeffrey Keeten Jeffrey Keeten says:

    ”The head was establishing its rapport with the crowd Its glassy eyes sought human eyes Death hung in the air transparently visible As the cold tightened its grip the spectators felt drawn closer to the frontier of death almost touching it In a few moments the crowd and death would congeal in a waxen translucent unity”Black Ali Pasha of Albania has decided at the age of 82 to rebel against the Sultan in Constantinople It is not readily clear if he has a death wish or at least that he wants to have a brief moment of perceived freedom before his head is separated from his body He knows The Sultan knows Everyone knows he won’t win The Sultan sends his soldiers to Albania carrying their menacing black scarecrows striking terror on the level of stormtroopers or the Waffen SSThe traitor’s niche in the Cannon Gate awaits Black Ali’s head At the Traitor’s Niche there is a man by the name of Abdulla who is assigned the task of watching over the Niche He examines the heads twice a day to make sure they are not deteriorating If anything goes awry with one of the heads it will be his head He has recently married and is having trouble ”He felt betrayed His body was slowly failing about to give up But the brunt of his anger was directed towards what had previously been his greatest joy his cock He could not forgive it When he was not with his bride when he was in the street or the cafe or even at the site of his sacred duty it would unexpectedly swell and be ready for any exploit but when he was with his wife it became flabby shrank and retreated like a puppy faced with a tiger And so he cursed it for its treachery”Before the heads reach Abdulla they have to be fetched from sometimes the far reaches of the empire The odious Tundj Hata is the man for that job It is a nasty assignment which most people would do because they have no choice but Hata loves it In fact you might even say he relishes it He is pale with a henna stained beard So what does a man like this dream about as he is riding in a carriage with a snow wrapped head from Albania?”His brain resembled some clinging creature with the inner luminescence of a glow worm whose slime smeared the domes of mosues and mausoleums banknotes and the wombs of women awaiting insemination”ShiverThere is a great emphasis on dreams in the Turkish empire and soldiers on the march are reuired to turn in their dreams for analysis so the dream interpreters can sift through their muddled thoughts in search of omens of the near future The Palace of Dreams back in Constantinople reuires dreams from the citizens as well It sort of reminds me of Roman priests looking at the entrails of a fatted calf to determine if the auguries are favorable The empire also has a system to bring a conuered country fully under their control There are five principal stagesA physical crushing of the rebellionThe extirpation of any idea of rebellionThe destruction of culture art and traditionThe eradication or impoverishment of the languageThe extinction or enfeeblement of the national memoryIsmail Kadare takes us into the minds of Black Ali Pasha his 22 year old bride Hurshid Pasha the conueror of Albania Abdulla the keeper of the heads and Tundj Hata the fetcher of the heads and by doing so gives us a complete picture of a brutal world at the height of Turkish conuest I remember having a similar experience when I read his book The Siege I was completely submerged in the minds of the principle characters This access bloomed the ramifications of the events of the story into a grand epic of images Kadare writes these thoughtful stark passages and every sentence is so finely honed that it makes me wonder how much better it would be in his native Albanian Another wonderful adventure with Kadare with extra bonus points for a cameo by Lord Byron himself If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at


  2. J.L. Sutton J.L. Sutton says:

    Ismail Kadare’s The Traitor’s Niche opens in the capital of the Ottoman Empire Constantinople in a public suare where tourists come to drink coffee and gawk Known as the Traitor’s Niche this suare is where the sultan displays the severed heads of the Ottoman’s Empire’s latest enemy Kadare presents this display as than some macabre and anachronistic ritual What the severed heads represent to establishing order and claiming cultural legitimacy in both the center of the empire as well as its far flung provinces here it’s Albania lies at the heart of The Traitor’s Niche Kirkus Review called this novel “A political fable of decapitation amid totalitarian oppression combines wickedly funny satire with darker deeper lessons” I like this characterization There are definitely lessons here especially about authoritarianism but the comedy doesn’t roll off the pages It’s something you need to grapple with Though it is a short novel there’s a lot going on and Kadare moves from a detailed and realistic picture of life in the empire to a abstract battle of memory The common thread is the severed headsEven though The Traitor’s Niche is short don’t think of this as an easy book to get through With its shifting cast of perspectives and lack of traditional plot it is sometimes difficult to follow However the ending is powerful and wickedly funny and brings the book back into stark focusI received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review


  3. Will Byrnes Will Byrnes says:

    The unblinking eyes met the stares of the passersby and tourists who poured into the suare from all directions The tourists’ own gaze like that of all moving crowds was mild and unfocused but people’s eyes suddenly froze as soon as they encountered this sight as if their astonished pupils struggled to sink back into the depths of their skulls and only the impossibility of doing this compelled them to stand still and face what they saw Most went pale some wanted to vomit Only a few looked on calmly The eyes were indifferent of a color you could not call bluish or even gray and which it was hard to name because it was less of a color than the distant reflection of a void Ooh ooh can I get a selfie? Here’s a heads up for you Ismail Kadare is an author of note He was the first recipient of the International Man Booker prize in 2005 and is freuently mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel There is always a bit of a downside in understanding when one enters a considerable literary oeuvre anywhere but at the beginning Odds are the name Kadare is as new to you as it was to me He has been at it since the 1960s A native he studied in Communist Albania’s University of Tirana and later at an institute in Moscow returning home when the Soviet Union and Albania parted ways in 1960 but not before publishing a collection of poems in Russian and writing his first novel which was daring in his world as it was a stark contrast to the social realism literary form preached by Communist leadership His work was banned by Albanian officials and he was blocked from publishing for three years He had a breakthrough in 1970 when a 1963 novel of his was translated into French gaining him international notice Ismail Kadare image from his FB pageKadare is both a politicalhistorical satirist and a champion of the Albanian language doing what he can to keep it alive and even doing some promotional housekeeping by restoring the use of Albanian words where foreign words have found their way into the language It is a dodgy enterprise of course writing criticism of one’s autocratic political leadership Tends to leave one with prolonged periods of barred isolation or in extreme situations can result in a bad case of dead Kadare did what he could to keep his body parts attached and keep himself free to move about This entailed some compromise which earned him the antipathy of many Nevertheless he has managed to produce a large volume of work over the decades Born in 1936 he is now 2018 82 years old The Traitor’s Niche was released in 1978 You can check here for a list of his considerable published work So how does one continue to call out one’s government for their crimes and somehow manage to stay alive? By never going after them overtly Kadare’s forte is allusion suggestion implication Thus deniability Of course it is entirely possible to look at his work in multiple dimensions Well keep in mind that I have read only this one so am making an educated guess here 1870s Constantinople image from wikipediaFirst is the story itself Does it move forward? Are the characters interesting? I must say that while I found the story or really the sub stories within interesting at times it was clearly not the thing overall Even knowing nothing about the author it was clear that this was about something other than the specifics of this then that The story is a multi narrator description of a time when a capital city Istanbul formerly Byzantium Augusta Antonina New Rome Constantinople and a few besides included in one of the gates to the city a special niche It was a small stage on which would be displayed the severed head of an enemy of the state an attempt to discourage thoughts of breaking away from the Ottoman super power empire Abdulla the third Keeper of the Niche don’t ask about the first two is in charge of the head which he inspects twice a day Even jobs of this sort are fraught with peril as one keeper of a particular statue was transported for life for the high crime of allowing a rust stain to appear on its western face Abdulla has issues of his own outside work While his larger head is willing his little head is not at least when it comes to his bride He even dreams of discarding his body and being reduced solely to a head so expectations of him would be reduced Ahmet Fountain – image from Turkish Culture PortalHurshid Pasha commander of Ottoman troops has been sent to Albania to retrieve the head of a rebellious leader Black Ali aka Ali Pasha Teplena The mission uickly completed off screen he hands the prize over to a courier Tundj Hata Tundj has made a bit of a business for himself out of this job as people in towns along his route back to the capital are willing to pay to see a severed head particularly of someone so important Tundj Hata laid the bag on the wooden bench and announced in a resounding voice“Ali Teplena Black Prince governor of Albania a pasha of the first rank and member of the Council of Ministers”As he uttered the last word he put his hand in the bag and gripping the head by the hair drew it out in a swift movementAs the cold tightened its grip the spectators felt drawn closer to the frontier of death almost touching it Not exactly a rabbit out of a had but Abracadabra indeed Tundj has a rather troubling relationship with the heads he transports almost ghoulish almost sexual He talks to them way too much Guy is definitely a creepazoid There is one hilarious scene with Tundj when he needs to dry out one of his passengers and takes it out in an unlikely place Istanbul 1850s image from Ottoman Imperial ArchiveAli Pasha’s beautiful 22 year old widow Vasiliia considers her options She recalls for us her late hubby’s plan for Albanian independence The old guy 82 had thought to rally the nation around him to pull away from the empire neglecting to consider that he had treated the Albanian people shabbily for the entirety of his tenure so was left with no allies no public support and nowell you knowOthers are brought in to fill us in on how the empire goes about destroying those who would oppose it The partial or full erasure of the national identity of peoples which was the main task of the Central Archive was carried out according to the old secret doctrine of Caw caw and passed through five principal stages first the physical crushing of rebellion; second the extirpation of any idea of rebellion; third the destruction of culture art and tradition; fourth the eradication or impoverishment of the language; and fifth the extinction or enfeeblement of the national memory The briefest of all these stages was the physical crushing of rebellion which merely meant war but the longest phase was the reduction of the language into Nonspeak as it was called for short Istanbul in 1858 – image from AGWallacewordpresscomWas this how things were done in the days of the Ottomans? No idea Maybe maybe not But one would expect that the barbs being inserted here were intended for the Yugoslavs who were bent on absorbing Albania into their nation and the hide of the Albanian Communist leaders of his time a brutal Stalinist dictatorship that switched allegiance to Mao’s China when relations with the Soviet Union went south local leadership insisting despite Nikita Khrushchev’s declarations that Stalin was really an ok guy Tens of thousands were executed during the brutal dictatorship of the proletariat of course of Enver HoxhaThere are perils for sure as no head appears to be securely attached whether because of harboring dreams of independence being in the way of someone else’s rise through the ranks or maybe pissing off the wrong politician While horrific those might be at least understandable reasons One might also come to a bad end because of some idiot’s interpretation of a prisoner’s dreams The actual Palace of Dreams is given a literal interpretation here This may be the 19th century but it is a very dark age indeedEdirne 19th Century image from Ottoman Imperial ArchivesWhile Kadare’s character portraits are far from compelling they do offer meaningful perspectives How might a lowly bureaucrat react to a whimsical government? How to cope when the logic of leadership is inexplicable? I imagine one can find an example of that sort of stress very close to home But Kadare is not solely writing about the Ottoman rule and its attempt to erase the Albanian nation and culture from human memory He is also writing about the 20th century attempt by Yugoslavia to absorb Albania and the Soviet attempt to control it The pushing and pulling of Albania by diverse powers finds a concrete manifestation here the distant sound of wheels reached Hurshid Pasha’s ears He’s gone he thought Wrapping his shoulders in a woolen blanket he closed his eyes for the tenth time but still he couldn’t sleep He felt a constant pressure in his temples The hissing wind racing low over the surface of the land seemed to penetrate his skull The head has set off for Asia he thought but the body remains in Europe His imagination conjured up some sticky ectoplasmic creature pulled by both continents endlessly lengthening and becoming thinner and transparent as if at any moment it might turn into some ethereal substance something between a cloud and the tail of a comet I found the bit about posting a head marginally effective Nations do display a strong inclination toward cohering around a perceived or fluffed up common enemy so it does make sense And this sort of thing has been used as a warning in many cultures FYI while I did not turn up a Traitor’s Niche in my slight research into Ottoman public spaces in Istanbul I did come across mention of the Edirne Palace which was a sometime capitol It included a Justice Pavilion with two stone columns in front of it One of those was named the “Warning Stone” and was used for displaying the heads of criminals So much permanent than an apology tourHagia Sophia image from picturesforwallscomThe writer whose work most popped to mind while reading this was Kafka for the wide gulf between cause and effect and the paranoia that seems both extreme and justified something Kadare is certainly familiar with living as he did under an oppressive autocratic regime well until he left the country anyway This is not a gripping action adventure read Things do happen and characters do move from here to there but this is much an intellectual than a visceral book It helps to know who Kadare is and it helps to have at least a surface familiarity with the history of Albania Both are easily taken care of with a visit to wikipedia If you enjoy Kafka and his take on the madness of the world you will probably enjoy The Traitor’s Niche There is dark humor here that made me smile on occasion an appreciation for human folly present in all times and among all nationalities What I found engaging was the look in the latter third of the book on how conuerors go about erasing the culture and identity of the conuered Many echoes there of today’s world This was the strongest element of the book for me The translation was one step removed as John Hodgson translated this to English from the French translation Who knows what nuances from the original Albanian were lost in the two subseuent trips through the word grinder?Istanbul 1800s image from Ottoman Imperial ArchiveAlthough Kadare is a well regarded world renowned author I was not blown away by The Traitor’s Gate While I do respect the craft on display here and while I was very impressed with his description of how nations disappear other nations it was not a gripping read If this particular form of literature is your cuppa it is a five star read for sure but if you reuire visceral engagement you will find it disappointing Kadare of course deserves all the credit and attention he can get for having produced serious works of art under such perilous conditions however many stars you might assign My gut wants to give this book three stars My brain wants to give it five for the author’s daring and inventiveness So four it is Head and heart working together well until they take me awayPublication June 12 2018 – English translation in the USA 1978 in original AlbanianReview – directly in American English – July 20 2018EXTRA STUFFThe author’s FB pageA Nice piece on Kadare in BritannicaJohn Hodgon article on Kadare What is Ismail Kadare like in Albanian? Interesting wiki on George Castriot aka Skanderbeg a seminal figure in Albanian history who comes in for significant mention in the novel


  4. Fabian Fabian says:

    Never has a story with so many severed heads contained so little violence Or dread It's the normality of things I guess the dissolution of the horrid that is what is brilliant in itselfI've never read an Albanian novel before but Ismail Kadare's style seems a bit style less repetitive not as Western ready as I had predicted for instance there is no plot to speak of That there is a public place that reuires a traitors head to satiate the people this is a metaphor that not an entire novel makes


  5. Sidharth Vardhan Sidharth Vardhan says:

    Traitor's Niche is a place where heads of traitors were displayed for public to see and know what happens when they uestion authority in Ottoman empire The idea of characters being constantly made face to face with a dead face and thoughts that might occur to him might have been interesting But it actually turned out to be most boring book I have read out of international booker lists so far I don't know how it ever got listed The narrative isnt stimulating and there isn't much of a plot either


  6. Jill Jill says:

    I did not expect to really enjoy a book about a niche in a wall in Constantinople where the heads of traitors are put on display and carefully tended Also surprising is that this book was written 40 years ago because it feels very current Unfortunately powerful regimes stopping at nothing to silence those who rebel against them is still relevant The real strength of this book to me is that it is both meaningful cleverly written The writing is beautiful The story is set in the winter of the 1800s The February wind whistled in a thousand languages across the plain darkened by winter and war It is February in all the infinite lands of the empire he groaned to himself Why should he think there might be a fragment of March somewhere or even a scrap of April? A little March for the empire's chosen sons he thought But it was February for everyoneWhether it makes the official MBI shortlist or not I expect it will be on my own personal shortlist


  7. Paul Fulcher Paul Fulcher says:

    Just as they say that new heavenly bodies are fashioned from old cosmic dust so the new world of Albania was to be formed from the dust of the old Ottoman universe from that constellation of terrors and crimes postprandial poisonings night time assassinations monks holding lanterns in the rain dervishes with knives and messages hidden in their hair from that profusion of rebellious pashas bureaux with thousands of files informers outlawed viziers and ‘black’ pashas with a price on their heads who swarmed like ghosts before or after their death – all the rotting debris of empireBook 8 of 13 for me from the Man Booker International longlist 2017Ismail Kadare’s Kamarja e turpit was published in 1978 but has only recently been translated into English as The Traitor’s Niche by John Hodgson who has previously translated The Accident The Fall of the Stone City A Girl in Exile and The Three Arched Bridge The book reads very well in Hodgson’s translation which unlike those done by some other Kadare translators eg David Bellos and Barbara Bray was taken from the Albanian original rather than a retranslation from the French Hodgson has some interesting comments on Kadare’s language and how it has evolved in this interview book is set in the 1820s in the Ottoman Empire The Traitor’s Niche of the title refers to a place in a public suare in Istanbul referred to throughout as the Centre where the severed heads of disgraced viziers and rebel pashas are preserved and put on display to the publicThe remote province of Albania – known locally as Shipëria a kind of convocation of eagles with blood stained feathers that falls from the air swooping through the storms is in revolt led by Ali Pasha Tepelena now known as “Black Ali” And as the book opens the head on display is that of the vizier Bugrahan Pasha who failed in his attempt to supress Ali Pasha’s rebellion and was decapitated as punishment The senior Hurshid Pasha has now been sent to accomplish what Bugrahan couldn’t but on the same pain of failure “The niche now waited again indifferently for either Black Ali or the glorious Hurshid the sultan’s favourite” The story although narrated in the 3rd person is told from the perspective of a number of different characters in the Centre and Albania; Abdulla the then current Keeper of the Traitor's Niche; Hurshid Pasha; Tundra Hata the Royal Messenger responsible for delivering death sentences out from the Centre and then transporting back taking the severed heads which he calls cabbages the blade of destiny had harvested its crop and there it was on the table this white cabbage from the gardens of hell; the rebellious Albanian ruler Ali Tepelena and his young wife Vasiliia; and members of the Caw caw unit see belowThe tales of the severed heads take up much of the novel particularly the early parts and the narration is rife with black humour Tundra Hata makes money on the side by showing off the heads to isolated villagers on his journey the separation of head from body is twice used to illustrate husbands unable to perform their conjugal duties Abdulla has so far been unable to consummate his new marriage and Vasiliia reflects that she had few physical encounters with her 80 year old husband and Tundra Hata and Abdulla both wrestle with the practical difficulties of preserving heads particularly when the system is policed by a Kafkesue bureaucracy They tried to find some pretext to accuse the doctor and the keeper of not complying with the Regulations for the Care of Heads and asked devious uestions about the unnaturally yellow tinge of the vizier’s face and the lack of eye colour Abdulla had been struck speechless but the doctor courageously defended himself and said that the vizier’s complexion even in life had been sallow as is typical of men with rebellion and treason in their blood As for the lack of colour in the eyes which had in fact obviously begun to decompose the doctor uoted the old saying that the eyes are a window to the soul it would be useless to look for colour in the eyes of a man who had never had a soul The doctor’s explanations were hardly convincing not to say vacuous but for this very reason they were hard to argue with The inspectors were obliged to withdraw their remarks and the matter concluded with a mere reprimand and a warning of dismissal for Abdulla The book’s events are based on real history – Hurshid Pasha and Black Ali really existed although Kadare has altered facts to suit his purpose The novel formed part of a linked trilogy of novels starting with the 1978 Ura me tri hare The Three arched Bridge 1978 and ending in 1981 with Pallati i ëndrrave The Palace of Dreams all written under the censorship of the Stalinist Enver Hoxha regime The Independent explains how “by setting about Albanian nationalism at the heart of a state bureaucracy Kadare was able to promote national pride while condemning political dictatorship” although The Palace of Dreams proved a novel too far being banned in Albania and ultimately leading to Kadare’s political exile in Paris in 1990 And to me the most striking part of the book wasn’t the severed heads but Kadare’s concept of the Caw caw unit part of the Ottoman bureaucracy and secret police alongside the Palace of Dreams and the Department of Psst Psst who sweep up rumours and muttered asides The partial or full erasure of the national identity of peoples which was the main task of the Central Archive was carried out according to the old secret doctrine of Caw caw and passed through five principal stages first the physical crushing of rebellion; second the extirpation of any idea of rebellion; third the destruction of culture art and tradition; fourth the eradication or impoverishment of the language; and fifth the extinction or enfeeblement of the national memory Neil's review discusses this topic in detail and says everything I would want to say won the inaugural Man Booker International Prize in 2005 it its previous incarnation recognising an author’s work rather than individual novels and his books have also been previously twice shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize so it seems fitting that this belatedly translated work features on the 2017 Man Booker International which merges the two previous prizesOverall a powerful and fascinating story my favourite of the 4 Kadare novels I have read to date and while not for me one for overall MBI victory this may well feature on my personal shortlist


  8. Jane Jane says:

    Fascinating mesmerizing surreal novel that held my interest every page The author has returned to the main theme of most of his oeuvre struggles of his native Albania against an oppressive power This time the novel is set in the post Napoleonic years and those of Greece for her independence 1820s In this case the novel is an allegory with the Ottoman Empire representing the brutal Albanian dictatorship of Enver Hoxha It is the story of several men and their fates Abdulla the Keeper of the Heads Dulla was a nickname of Enver Hoxha ; the three Pashas who have run afoul of the government in some way and have been beheaded Ali by rebelling; Bugrahan by losing battles to Ali; Hurshid who wins the war but becomes too popular for his own good; and Hata the courier who delivers each head to the sultan after exhibiting it to villagers along the way The author describes Caw Caw the complete obliteration of an entire people's culture customs and language and of Psst Psst the secret police investigating rumors All in all a chilling indictment of tyranny 455Highly recommended and just as current today as when it was first written in 1984


  9. Calzean Calzean says:

    It's not often that the main characters in a novel consist of three headsIn this Kadare novel he gives us early 1800s and yet another attempt of forming an independent Albanian nation The first Ottoman Vizier sent to put the Albanians in their place fails to do so and loses his head The second Vizier wins and sends his Albanian foe's head back to Constantinople But he becomes too popular and so his death is ordered but he is forewarned and commits suicide Nonetheless his body is found beheaded and head sent back to the set of powerKadare explores the bureaucratic Ottoman Empire and it's deadly punishments for anyone who goes against it He also explores why Albania finds itself a vassal of the powerful His books are great examples of how historical fiction can be so powerful


  10. Neil Neil says:

    A story of two men and three heads Plus a few other thingsOne man looks after the heads after they have been put on display in the titular Traitor's Niche The other man collects the heads from wherever they were recently attached to their bodies and brings them to the city to be displayedOne head is of a man who failed in his mission One is of a man who rebelled against authority One is of a man who succeeded in his mission but then became too popular for the liking of those in powerWe follow the story of the two men as they deal with the three heads And the story allows the author to discuss tyrants and nationhood and national memoryThis book is almost 40 years old but has only recently bean translated into English It is one of three interlinked stories that the author wrote the others being The Three Arched Bridge and The Palace of Dreams For some reason this one has had to wait a long time before being translated whereas the other two have been available for some time This is a shame because this is a masterful tale that does not feel dated I guess the topic of oppressive tyrants and suppression of truth will never be irrelevantThere is a recurring theme about the suppression of truth and history by government It was previously thought that states had so many memorials and monuments in order that nothing should be forgotten But it was discovered later that a major state had as much need to forget as to remember if not The memories of events and statesmen paled as the years passed Dust covered them mud stained them until they were finally erased as if they had never been But recently people had come to understand that forgetting was difficult and complicated than remembering It was forbidden for example to mention the name of Scanderbeg in books or the press but there was no such ruling regarding the two sultans’ campaigns against him in Albania Nobody dared say that poems and chronicles could no longer mention the sovereigns’ battles But at the same time nobody could advise how to answer bothersome uestions who had the great emperors set off to fight against and what had they done when they arrived? The Central Archive could perform many miracles as it had done with the Balkans but it was beyond its skill to hide these looming uestions that emerged through the fog like mountaintops and seemed to glint above the entire worldAnd Despite the Central Archive’s strenuous efforts to erase these nobles from the face of the earth their names remained scattered throughout the terrain of Albania These reckless impetuous stubborn people were transformed into valleys crags plains copses and waterfalls The lands of Balshikia Karlilija Shpati the streams of Skuria Myzeeja the Plain of Dukagjin Mount Scanderbeg After so many centuries they still loomed among the mists in motionless stone immured untouched by the perpetual fever of struggles for power of uarrels and spiteIt is clear that the role of the Central Archive is to manage information but that this is a difficult task than that Archive might think The state wants to forget The people refuse to forgetI had no idea what this book would be like as I began to read it I really liked it and have added the two related books to my to read list


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Kamarja e turpit At the heart of the Ottoman Empire in the main suare of Constantinople a niche is carved into ancient stone Here the sultan displays the severed heads of his adversaries People flock to see the latest head and gossip about the state of the empire the province of Albania is demanding independence again and the niche awaits a new trophyTundj Hata the imperial courier is charged with transporting heads to the capital – a task he relishes and performs with fervour But as he travels through obscure and impoverished territories he makes money from illicit side shows offering villagers the spectacle of death The head of the rebellious Albanian governor would fetch a very high priceThe Traitor’s Niche is a surreal tale of rebellion and tyranny in a land where armies carry scarecrows state officials ban entire languages and the act of forgetting is complicated than remembering