The Fall of the Stone City - Ismail Kadare

And among the top contenders this year for the Nobel Prize in Literature is Albanian author Ismail Kadare. Tim Gebhart of is fairly certain that Kadare ultimately will wear the Nobel medal.

Tim Gebhart writes: “Kadare’s books reflect his country and are imbued with Albanian myths and metaphors. Kadare’s latest work to be translated into English, The Fall of the Stone City, translated by John Hodgson, continues the pattern.

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The book is set in his native town of Gjirokastër in southern Albania, coincidentally the birthplace of Enver Hoxha, the committed Marxist-Leninist dictator of the country from 1944 until his death in 1985. The medieval city, which Kadare describes as having “a reputation for arrogance,” is populated with large stone houses, although its skyline, as it is, is dominated by a prison built on top of a medieval castle at the highest point in the city. These features also play a role in The Fall of the Stone City.

Kadare, the winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize in 2005, breaks this tale into essentially three parts. In the first, the Nazis occupy the city following Italy’s surrender in 1943.

The second part of the story is transitional, addressing the transformation of life in the city as the Communist partisans take charge of the country following the German withdrawal in 1944.

The final part focuses on the arrest and interrogation of the two physicians. They are taken to the worst part of the prison, known for torture. They are caught up in the reverberations of the so-called Doctors’ Plot against Stalin.”

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