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The Fall of the Stone City by Ismail Kadare

The Fall of the Stone City (original 2009; edition 2013)

by Ismail Kadare (Author), John Hodgson (Translator)

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1078168,283 (3.27)9
Title:The Fall of the Stone City
Authors:Ismail Kadare (Author)
Other authors:John Hodgson (Translator)
Info:Edinburgh: Canongate
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction Albania

Work details

The Fall of the Stone City by Ismail Kadare (2009)

  1. 00
    The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Involving the reactions of communities under German occupation

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I initially found this novel, the latest from Kadare, to be a Bridge on the Drina for the 1940s. The tics and hisses of History occur just off-camera. Barely audible. Life in the provinces continues. There is considerable traction made at the expense of the various groups within the titular town of Gjirokastër, which serves as stand-in for the Balkans as a disjointed whole. The story progresses from the Italian capitulation through the Nazi Occupation and ultimately into the postwar period where Stalin's death and the Doctor's Plot surface with the sinister air of some ancient curse.

The concluding third of the novel is an interrogation, not just of the suspected reactionaries, but of the region's foundational myths and traditions. The charges are repeated like incantations and the culpability of all those involved remains as muted as the stone of the city they inhabit.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Albania, 1943.
I found this an interesting, yet strange read. I'm not sure if this was down to the translation, or the style of the original text. It is set in 1943, at the time when Mussolini and the Nazis parted ways and Albania found itself abandoned by the Italians, leaving the country wide open for Nazi invasion.

The Stone City of the title is Gjirokastër, an ancient Albanian stronghold and the first city the Nazis reach when they enter Albania. The city is beautifully described in the narrative, which prompted me to Google images of the city.

This is very much a fact driven book and the only characters we get to discover much about are Big and Little Drs. Gurameto, both surgeons in the local hospital. The competition that exists between them seems to be generated by gossip in the local community rather than being actual rivalry.
Then, to the dismay of the townspeople, Big Gurameto appears to welcome the Nazi commander and hosts a lavish banquet in his honour. While this turns out to be beneficial to the town in the short term, it causes huge problems for Big Gurameto when the communists arrive.

The latter parts of the book confused me, with the women being called 'comrade' on the streets and consequently fainting and even dying. I found on-line reference to women who were hanged for partisan activities, but nothing to explain the events narrated. There is also reference to a Jewish conspiracy called 'the Joint', but I also failed to discover any reference to this, leaving me feeling that the second half of the book was more fable than fact.

I guess I learned something of Albania's history but I seem to be left with as many questions as answers. ( )
  DubaiReader | Jul 28, 2018 |
An allegoric novel, like many of Kadare's work. A main role for his hometown Gjirokastër in Albania, that is so prominent that it looks like the protagonist. Of course Kadare is again joking with the communist regime that dominated for so long his country and this time it's so hilarious that you can only wonder why so many people saw for such a long time a realistic alternative in these oppressive, even stupid, regimes.
Not all ends well, and some mysterious people pass by, die, get mad or simply survive. And this is, maybe, how life was in Albania under that regime: you were lucky, or not, or you didn't want to know anymore ( )
  Lunarreader | Apr 8, 2016 |
When Albania is occupied by the Germans during WWII doctor Guremento holds a dinner for the head of the German army. This dinner haunts him and leads to trouble when communists take over the country. ( )
  RachelNF | Jan 15, 2016 |
Kadare's ironic take on human folly and hypocrisy and the uncertainties of history combined with strong story telling makes a good read. In a strange way, makes something of the horrors of totalitarianism into dark comedy; in that, reminiscent of the Italian film 'Life is beautiful' ( )
  vguy | Oct 12, 2014 |
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Book description
German soldiers advance on the ancient gates of Gjirokastër, Albania. It is the first step in a carefully planned invasion. But once at the mouth of the city, the troops are taken aback by an act of rebellion that leaves the citizens fearful of bloody reprisals.

Soon rumours circulate, in cafes, houses and alleyways, that the Nazi Colonel in command of the German Army was once a school acquaintance of a local dignitary, Doctor Gurameto. In the town square, Colonel von Schwabe greets his former classmate warmly; in return, Doctor Gurameto invites him to dinner. The very next day, the Colonel and his army disappear from the city.

The dinner at Gurameto's house changes the course of events in twentieth-century Europe. But as the citizens celebrate their hero. a conspiracy surfaces which leads some to place Gurameto - and the stone city - at the heart of a  plot to undermine Socialism.

As a medieval city strives to become a communist one without descending into madness, the citizens are left wondering: what exactly took place on that strange night and what lies in store for Doctor Gurameto?

Enigmatic and compelling, The Fall of the Stone City displays Ismail Kadare at the height of his considerable powers.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802120687, Hardcover)

It is 1943, and the Second World War is ravaging Europe. Mussolini decides to pull out of his alliance with the Nazis, and withdraws the Italian troops occupying Albania. Soon after, Nazi forces invade Albania from occupied Greece. The first settlement in their path is the ancient stone city of Gjirokastër, an Albanian stronghold since the fourteenth century. The townsfolk have no choice but to surrender to the Nazis, but are confused when they see that one of the town’s residents, a certain Dr. Gurameto, seems to be showing the invading Nazi Colonel great hospitality. That evening, strains of Schubert from the doctor’s gramophone waft out into the cobbled streets of the city, and the sounds of a dinner party are heard. The sudden disappearance of the Nazis the next morning leaves the town wondering if they might have dreamt the events of the previous night. But as Albania moves into a period of occupation by the Nazis, and then is taken over by the communists, Dr. Gurameto is forced to answer for what happened on the evening of the Nazi’s invasion, and finally explain the events of that long, strange night.

Dealing with themes of resistance in a dictatorship, and steeped in Albanian folklore and legend, The Fall of the Stone City shows Kadare at the height of his powers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:17 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Townsfolk assume a prominent citizen betrayed them during the 1943 Nazi invasion of Albania. Years later he will be forced to reveal the secret behind his actions.

(summary from another edition)

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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