In a garden, the aged Kublai Khan broods on the impending end of his empire. To divert him, Marco Polo regales him with his accounts of the many places he has visited in his travels. As the young Ventian unspools his tales, the emperor detects that these fantastic places hold profound mysteries, and it matters little whether they are real or imagined. Much as he did in If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino crafts a new form of novel in this 1975 Nebula Award nominee, blending folk tales with speculative fiction.
"[This novel] changed the way we read and what is possible in the balance between poetry and prose…. The book I would choose as pillow and plate, alone on a desert island."—Jeanette Winterson