Notebook

Bound for Albania

‘I remember setting out in late August 1996, from a basement flat with one of the classiest addresses in London. The evenings that August were filled with distant music. Live opera wafted over from open-air performances in the nearby park, where fat, late-matingseason peacocks almost broke the tree branches with now desperate enthusiasm, their randy shrieks mingling with snatches of amateur Carmen. A heady blend of music and nature to accompany my frenzied packing, for I was swapping London W11 for Tirana.’

Thus begins Joanna Robertson’s retrospective reportage of how she ‘stumbled into Albania’, a country about which I may not be the only one to know far too little. The result is a thrilling account of a country rich in colour, beauty, dignity, and tragedy at a crucial moment of its recent history.