It’s the late 1940s in Skopje, Yugoslavia, in the critical year leading to Tito’s break with Stalin. Pushed to leave mountain villages to become the new proletariat in urban factories, a flood of peasants crowds into Skopje—and with them, all of their goats. Suffering from hunger, Skopje’s citizens welcome the newcomers. But municipal leaders are faced with a dilemma when the central government issues an order calling for the slaughter of the country’s goat population. With food so scarce, will they hide the outlawed animals? Or will they comply with the edict and endure the bite of hunger?
The Time of the Goats is the second novel in Luan Starova’s acclaimed multivolume Balkan saga. It follows the main characters from My Father’s Books and the tragicomic events of their lives in Skopje as the narrator’s intellectual father and the head goatherd become friends. As local officials clumsily carry out absurd policies, Starova conveys the bonds of understanding and mutual support that form in Skopje’s poorest neighborhoods. At once historical and allegorical, folkloric and fantastic, The Time of the Goats draws lyrically on Starova’s own childhood.