Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Classics
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Omer Pasha LatasMarshal to the Sultan
by Ivo Andrić, introduction by William T. Vollmann, translated from the Serbo-Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth
An NYRB Classics Original
Omer Pasha Latas is set in nineteenth-century Sarajevo, where Muslims and Christians live in uneasy proximity while entertaining a common resentment of faraway Ottoman rule. Omer is the seraskier, commander in chief of the Sultan’s armies, and as the book begins he arrives from Istanbul, dispatched to bring Sarajevo’s landowners to heel, a task that he accomplishes with his usual ferocity and efficiency. And yet the seraskier’s expedition to Bosnia is a time of reckoning for him as well: he was born in the Balkans, a Serb and a subject of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a bright boy who escaped his father’s financial disgrace by running away and converting to Islam. Now, at the height of his power, he heads an army of misfits, adventurers, and outcasts from across Europe and Asia, and yet wherever he goes he remains a stranger.
Ivo Andrić, who won the Nobel Prize in 1961, is a spellbinding storyteller and a magnificent stylist, and here, in his final novel, he surrounds his enigmatic central figure with many vivid and fascinating minor characters, lost souls and hopeless dreamers all, in a world that is slowly sliding towards disaster. Omer Pasha Latas combines the leisurely melancholy of Joseph Roth’s The Radetzky March with the stark fatalism of an old ballad.
Andrić possesses the rare gift in a historical novelist of creating a period-piece, full of local colour, and at the same time characters who might have been living today.
—Times Literary Supplement
The historical context will be unfamiliar to most readers, but the issues, of good and evil, identity and fate, are universal.