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The Fall of the Stone City Hardcover – January 29, 2013
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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An incisve, biting work. . . . [The Fall of the Stone City] refines our understanding of satire’s nature. . . . If you don’t know [Kadare’s] work, this is a good place to begin. I hope you won’t stop here.”NPR
"What’s most interesting apart from Kadare’s use of folk tales and dreams is [The Fall of the Stone City’s] gender politics. . . . Like an unreconstructed Freudian, Kadare is fascinated by how men use ideological structures as proxy mechanisms to shore up their masculinity and carry out dominion over others. . . . Kadare’s skill as a storyteller [is] that he renders conventional wisdom with the force of a childhood trauma.”New York Times Book Review
The town’s quirks, destiny, and characterscomic, extravagant, and all but floating an inch or two off the groundare in some ways reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. . . . After a first part centering around a cheerfully extravagant wartime story, cracks develop; a hallucinatory crumbling ensues and descends into tightening nightmare. . . . the nexus between totalitarianism and madness is twisted tight. . . . The novel starts in the blithe wackiness of a place where gossip and rumor play the role that facts might anywhere else.” The Boston Globe
Complex and exacting.”The Wall Street Journal
Kadare’s books reflect his country and are imbued with Albanian myths and metaphors. The book gives both the sense and essence of a totalitarian state in language that, while straightforward, is literary and often allegorical. . . . The Fall of the Stone City is a strong addition to Kadare’s body of translated work and which further demonstrates that he is deserving of wider acclaim and readership.”Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Mesmerizing. . . A well-crafted translation of a European masterpiece.”Booklist (starred review)
"A harsh but artful study of power, truth and personal integrity... [The Fall of the Stone City is] an ironic, sober critique of the way totalitarianism rewrites history, from an Albanian author who’s long been the subject of Nobel whispers."Kirkus Reviews
A dreamworld where history and fiction come together . . . Ismail Kadare’s subject, as always, is the presence of the past. . . . more astonishing and truthful than any mere documentary chronicle.”The Guardian
The prose frequently evokes Albania's rich tradition of folklore. . . This is classic Postmodern fiction; literature which tells us that we can never be sure about the past. . . . The Fall of the Stone City is a masterly recuperation; an outstanding feat of imagination delivered in inimitable style, alternating between the darkly elusive and the menacingly playful.”The Independent on Sunday
In his latest novel, Kadare features many of his motifsbloody Balkan histories; bleak totalitarianism lives under silky threads of magical realismthat have made him a perpetual shortlister for Noble Prize laureate. A thoughtful exploration of the colluding forces of fascism and communism and a country caught between them that is at once obscure and enigmatic, lucid and insistent.”Publishers Weekly
Kadare was awarded the inaugural International Man Booker prize in 2005, and in this disorienting, absorbing, Kafkaesque novel his skill is clearly evident as he conjures the city’s nervy mood. Plot advances obliquely through a whirl of rumors to the doctor’s horrifying final act. A masterful performance.”Daily Mail
The Fall of the Stone City is playful, supremely sarcastic, mystifying, charming and bleak, by turns and all at once. Kadare raises ambiguity to an art form, and perfectly evokes the uncertainties of life under arbitrary rule.” The New Zealand Herald
This wonderful little novel, by the intriguing Albanian master Ismail Kadare, opens in September 1943. . . as witty and as dark as is everything he has written in a magnificent career. . . . The Fall of the Stone City is written with a persuasive lightness of touch. Kadare’s authorial tone is invariably ironic and his fiction is playful, as if he has never lost sight of exactly how ridiculous humankind tends to be.”The Irish Times
Top Customer Reviews
Enver Hoxha, the ultimate victor in the WW II years in Albania, wrote the history of those times and you had to swallow it on pain of your life. But what really went on in that time of destruction and chaos ? Nobody inside really knows what goes on in totalitarian societies or in the time of a war involving Italians, Germans, Communists, royalists, nationalists, and even the Western allies. Everything is either confused or secret, so truth (or even a semblance of truth) disappears. Magical realist explanations of the times are as good as any---maybe they are explanations for things that have no explanation. Garcia-Marquez wrote a magnificent portrayal of dictatorship and tyranny in "The Autumn of the Patriarch"; Kadare has written a different, but equally strong book here. The Germans are about to occupy Gjirokaster (the stone city) and Albania. Two doctors in town have different takes on the event. One is closer to Germany, the other to Italy. The former gives a dinner---or does he?Read more ›
This novel begins in 1943, with the retreat of the Italians, who have ruled Albania since 1939, and the arrival of the Germans. As the Germans enter the city, however, someone fires on the advance team. No one is hurt, but the Germans plan reprisals: a hundred citizens are taken hostage, and the city will be blown up. Soon, however, the townspeople hear music from the home of Big Dr. Gurameto. Colonel Fritz von Schwabe, commander of the German division, is having dinner with his "great friend, from university," Big Dr. Gurameto. Shortly afterward, the city learns that the citizens held as hostages, including Jakoel the Jew, are being released, and the city will not be bombed. No one knows how this came about.
In Part II, from 1944, the German Army retreats, and the communists arrive to take their place. People, including hospital patients still under anesthesia and "stuck somewhere out of time" are arrested.Read more ›
At every stage all sorts of rumours about the situation and about the fate of the city circulate in it; and indeed under each regime life is so unpredictable that anything could happen. In Parts One and Two there are arbitrary arrests and then equally arbitrary releases. Events are related in a symbolical but bizarre and surrealistic manner, humorous on the surface but of course reflecting an atmosphere that is far from amusing.
Two of the citizens are doctors, unrelated but with the same name: Big Dr Guarameto, who had been trained in Germany, and Little Dr Guarameto, whose training had been in Italy. Big Dr Guarameto’s standing varied with the standing of Germany. When the Germans are in occupation, his position is relatively strong, especially as the German commandant was an old university friend of his, and Dr Guarameto gave a great dinner to him and his staff. When the Germans leave, his position is weakened; but then, when Germany was divided into a capitalist and a communist country, it becomes rather arbitrary with which Germany he is identified.
In Part Three, at the time of the “Doctors’ Plot” in the Soviet Union, both doctors are put under arrest while investigators, trained in Moscow, collect “evidence” that they had killed many of their patients.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Albania is overpowered and tossed around between predators ; first Italy, then Nazi Germany, then the Soviet Union. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Geoff Crocker
Captivating read about a little known and appreciated part if the worldPublished 23 months ago by John R. Dorney
“People who set out on a journey to see with their own eyes some city they’ve always longed to visit, and imagine they can taste in reality what has charmed their fancy. Read morePublished on March 1, 2014 by TonyMess
This was a very haunting read. I was never really certain where I was in this story; the characters seemed to loop back and meet themselves at different parts of the story which... Read morePublished on January 17, 2014 by Timothy K. Mosman
historical novel as it is my favorite especially NAZI related. Also I give importance to the narration. I got fascinated when I read his "General of the Dead Army". Read morePublished on December 10, 2013 by Murali Nair
My tendency to read books based on New York Times or NPR or Time Magazine reading lists gives me a fairly narrow view of the literary world, so I always appreciate the nudge to get... Read morePublished on December 9, 2013 by Jillian Igarashi
This short novel is indeed one of Ismael Kadare's best-written and most intriguing books. The first half is particularly strong with its images and its humor in artfully... Read morePublished on November 24, 2013 by A Vienna Guy
This brief novel by the Albanian author Ismail Kadare encompasses much about the history of the land of his birth and the rest of the world that used to be ruled by communist... Read morePublished on July 28, 2013 by ADAM