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Spyless in Tirana: An Albanian adventure

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Once cut off from the rest of Europe by dictator Enver Hoxha, Albania has long been a source of fascination for Alex Klaushofer. Thirty years after the fall of communism, she spends a spring in Tirana, gaining a privileged insight into the country as it strives to join the modern West.

Volunteering at Tirana’s first hostel and interviewing a wide range of people, the author talks to a political prisoner about his experiences under the regime and meets the student activists trying to change a system which is still corrupt. She hears about the discrimination suffered by the disabled and sees how a new culture of caring for animals is slowly developing. She learns how, in a state where religion was banned, faith is making a comeback, why trafficking takes place and discovers how profoundly the architecture reflects the changing fortunes of the city.

A compelling narrative and piece of informed reportage, Spyless in Tirana provides a rare insight into a colourful, chaotic country that is utterly unlike any other.

Please note that as a ‘travella’ of 35,000 words, the book is about the third of the length of a conventional travelogue.

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