Why does Thesar Lumi disembark from the refugee ship to Italy and return to his home town? The question posed at the beginning of this compelling novel is answered as his life story is gradually revealed.
The Loser is a moving portrayal of the suppression not just of art by a controlled press and other repressive state mechanisms, but of a whole people denied the freedom to express themselves individually, to circulate and discuss ideas about ways of living and thinking. In short it is about the denial of the right to freedom of an entire population and the kind of personal despair such despotism can produce. And yet The Loser is also a moving novel of love and loss.
"Kongoli's scorching novel… The Loser heaves with unsavoury energy. Part of Seren's quietly impressive Literature in Translation series, this account of moral impotence and personal anguish is rendered with ugly, defiant vigour." Catherine Taylor, Guardian
"The Loser is among the best new novels published this year… The Loser is not only bleak and bald but unexpectedly humorous and humble: not an easy tone to achieve, and one that emanates from a fresh and unique voice."
Amanda Hopkinson, Independent
"Kongoli shows that behind the oak of Kadare there is a forest of talent in this corner of the Balkans."
"Flawless precision, beautifully elegiac scenes… Kongolis growling voice creates a dark and bitter novel."
Fatos Kongoli is one of the most forceful and convincing of contemporary Albanian novelists. He was born in the central Albanian town of Elbasan and raised in the capital, Tirana. As a young man he studied mathematics in China during the tense years of the Sino-Albanian alliance. Unlike other novelists Kongoli remained in Albania, though he also remained silent. His narrative talent and individual style emerged in the nineties, after the fall of the communist regime, as his telling and powerful narratives exposed the crimes it had visited upon the Albanian population.