Framed as a series of dialogues between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, this 1976 Nebula Award nominee for best novel is a series of vignettes that describe urban spaces dreamlike and seemingly impossible. Calvino, one of the great storytellers of the twentieth century, utilizes his framing device to explore the idea of communication and to create multiple possible interpretations of Polo's tales of wildly imaginative cities. The vignettes unfold in a poetic manner and the interstitial sections in which Kublai Khan and Marco Polo converse give additional thematic depth to this otherwise quick read. The metaphysical flavor of Calvino's writing will appeal to fans of Borges and his ability to play with structure will reward multiple readings. Highly recommended.
In Kublai Khan's garden, at sunset, the young Marco Polo diverts the aged emperor from his obsession with the impending end of his empire with tales of countless cities past, present, and future