Read The Fall of the Stone City by Ismail Kadare John Hodgson Online


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 townsfolkIt 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....

Title : The Fall of the Stone City
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780857860118
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 168 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Fall of the Stone City Reviews

  • Kavita
    2019-03-18 23:40

    The Nazi occupation was horrible, and then they were defeated, the Communists took over, and their rule was also horrible. There! I gave you the gist of the book, so you don't have to read the pointless story. The concept of The Fall of the Stone City is interesting. There are two doctors, both named Gurameto, in the same city of Gjirokastër. One of them gives a dinner to the Nazi officer in charge of the occupying force, and gets all the hostages set free. How and why does he does this is the crux of the narrative. But this theme was not developed into an interesting story. Though there are two doctors called Gurameto, only one even appears in the story. The other one is quite pointless except for the author to mention at times that he was the rival. But this rivalry was of no consequence. The characters were flat and boring and frankly, I didn't care whether they were going to be bombed by the Nazis or tortured by the Commies. The big drama of the German dinner petered off into nothing. Basically, this is just another book with a lot of ideas and literary devices but no good story. After reading the excellent stories by Chinua Achebe with all the underlying themes that he wanted to explore, I have even less patience now with such pretentious surrealist crap than usual. It is possible to do both - write a good story and explore themes of oppression and tragedy, so why don't authors work on their stories? Reading this gave me no sense of Albania as a country, or any understanding of its culture or even the kind of oppression the people of the country faced over the Nazi and Communist regimes. So in that respect, I think this was rather a failure.

  • Adam
    2019-03-14 03:53

    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 regimes. As with many of his other novels, the author writes succinctly and clearly, expressing feelings and ideas with skilful economy of language. In 170 pages he has expressed what many other authors would only manage in a book with at least twice as many pages.The story follows the fate of 'Big' Dr Gurameto, a senior doctor in the ancient Albanian town of Gjirokaster (the town where Kadare as well as the communist leader Enver Hoxha were born). It begins with the arrival of German invaders in 1943. They are 'welcomed' at the city's gates by hostile shooting. As a result of this, the Germans take hostages, whom they will probably kill. Gurameto invites the commander of the invading German force to a dinner, at which he persuades the German commander to release the hostages.This dinner will prove to have unfortunate consequences for Gurameto when the Communists take over the running of Albania. Gurameto is arrested and interrogated thoroughly not only by Albanian investigators but also by those flown in specially from East Germany and the USSR. The reason for this is that one of the hostages who was released on that night in 1943 was a Jewish pharmacist who worked in the town. And, the interrogation was taking place during the last few months of Comrade Stalin's life. This was the exact time when Stalin and his henchmen were concocting the "Jewish Doctors' Plot", which would have led to a massive campaign of Anti-Semitism throughout the Soviet-dominated countries of the world had Stalin lived longer.Once again, Kadare successfully exposes the reader to the mysteriously sinister mindset of those who worked for the Albanian Communist regime which was led ruthlessly by its dictator Enver Hoxha. This novel gripped me from the first page until the last. It never flagged whilst it unravelled the mysterious history of the author's mysterious country during an era that is poorly known by the world beyond its borders.The book can be read as a thriller as well as an ingenious portrayal of the history of a fascinating period in the history of Albania as well as the world beyond it.

  • Jonfaith
    2019-03-03 04:47

    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.

  • Rebecka
    2019-03-10 03:00

    This book reminded me of Saramago's Blindness, and I really, really hated that book.I didn't hate Kadare's book, it just annoyed me from page one and had me completely uninterested in everything and everyone in it. It sounds like it should be an interesting story, but I like stories with characters in them. Not these names/representations/ideas that walk around, especially when they live in personified cities (the city was arrogant, the city felt this and that, the city complained about...). Why does the city get more personality than any of the people living in it? This whole modern age fairy tale type of narrative has 0 positive effect on me. Why do these authors who use this kind of technique get so much praise? Are they considered creative? They're obviously not, they're basically using the oldest type of moralistic/fictional narrative there is. I had a long list of other complaints, but just like this book, I'm forgetting them by the second.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-22 06:07

    Ismail Kadare is an Albanian author who came to the world’s attention when he won the inaugural Man Booker International Prize in 2005. Since then he has also won the highly prestigious 2009 Principe de Asturias de las Letras in Spain as well and his novels have been translated around the world. I’ve read three of his books, The Accident and The Siege (and The Palace of Dreams before I started this blog) and I have four more on the TBR so you can count me as an enthusiast. I was delighted when his latest novel, The Fall of the Stone City was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.What I like about Kadare’s novels is that delicious moment when ‘the penny drops’ and the allegory is revealed. For much of his writing life Kadare lived under the repressive regime of Enver Hoxha, and as the Chinese still do today, he wrote oblique parables, allegories, fables and folklore in order to critique aspects of the regime. In this novel, his own home town of Gjirokastër is used to show how Albania itself is always at risk of losing its identity to great ‘isms’: its strategic position in the south of the country is analogous to Albania’s strategic position in Europe because the town is surrounded by hostile villages. Wikipedia tells me that Albaniais bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo (Disputed) to the northeast, Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the west, and on the Ionian Sea to the southwest. It is less than 72 km (45 mi) from Italy, across the Strait of Otranto which links the Adriatic Sea to the Ionian Sea.So when we read Kadare’s whimsical explanation for the city’s sense of itself, hedged with his trademark uncertainty, we get a clear sense of what it’s like to live in a country where neighbours can’t be trusted.To read the rest of my review please visit

  • Rusalka
    2019-03-05 05:40

    This book has, as contrast to my last, had mystical, magical elements that confused and bamboozled for a moment, but were easily explained and logical. This book is a story of two doctors in a large stone walled city in Albania, and mainly around a night that the Nazi's came knocking. The majority of the book is about the aftermath of this night. This involved many a story, intrigue and folklore. Unfortunately as the world moves from War to Communism, these things are less tolerated and need to be stamped out. What makes you a hero before, makes you an enemy of the state later.It was a quick trip to Albania. I'm glad I popped in, and will read more of Kadare's writing as I really enjoyed his style and voice. It highlights how hard and frustrating the move from pre-war to WWII to Communism must have been for people in Europe. And that is important for us nowdays to remember.

  • Lou
    2019-03-02 04:58

    Set in Kadare's home town, this is a thrilling tale, enigmatic and compelling, of a secret meeting in wartime Europe that changes the political course of a great city.Many will look upon their meeting as a meeting of treason. A meeting of dining and music with the celebrated Albanian doctor and a German, is not what others would like to hear.He does have a history with the guest back to his college days when they were something else before they became what they were.The author incorporates in this story a dark history of torture, interrogations and secret services. Those featured in this story may be called the devil in disguise, the generals and leaders of the Hitler and Stalin entity.Along with this uncomplicated storytelling he has also embedded talk of nightmares and dreams which add a Kafka and Murakami feel to the story.He does successfully indeed transport you to a dark passage in time.A doctors kindness to a Jewish citizen of Albania whilst a German comes to occupy does not go unnoticed. Bigger questions are being answered and answers are to be bleed out of him.The Albania in this story is to play host to workings of the royal and later the communist Albanian secret service, the German Gestapo and Stasi and the Soviet and indirectly the Israeli secret services. Albania was penetrated by many, the forces of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin but the plight of one doctor will remembered, even though from fiction, as to what he had to endure can be a fine example of the atrocities many had to suffer at the hands of power hungry men.One interrogator a man in service of Russia wants to find those that want to kill Stalin and had a hand into his decline in health. As the ailing ruler approaches death he becomes obsessed with answers from the doctor to the many outlined question in the excerpt below. The parameters of conducting yourself with sanity and some humanity in service to your country and ruler seem to become none existent for this man and as Stalin died his own mind comes into battlefields and he becomes hellbent on revenge one pities the poor doctor.Ismail Kadare an author that many may not have heard of before but you will take note of once you have experienced his workings in the literary field as I have just done with this splendid story featuring a country virtually unknown to the masses presented in uncomplicated masterful storytelling."Gurameto, the mortal sinnerMet the devil one day on the street,Who told him to host a great dinnerWith champagne and good things to eat.What was the doctor's design,Asking the corse to dine?" "The Russian gave extraordinary detailed instructions. In the first session they would test the prisoners sincerity, especially Big Dr Gurameto's. Everything else depended on this. They would try to obtain precise answers to certain questions. What had the doctor and his foreign guest said in their private conversations during the dinner? What did the doctor know about German intentions towards Albania?There had been Tao of secret discussions before the invasion with a group of pro-German Albanians who would take over the country's government. What had been Dr Gurameto's role in this group, if any? Why had he felt in such a strong position, almost equal to the German colonel? Where had he found the courage to speak up for the hostages, especially Jakoel the Jew? What did the Germans think about their massacre of civilians at the village of Borova? Did they feel remorse? Or did they pretend to? Who had waved that white sheet as a sign of the city's surrender? If there was no truth in this story of the white sheet, who made it up, the Albanians or the Germans?" Review also @

  • Ema
    2019-03-19 06:56

    Evenimentele din "Cina blestemată" se derulează în Gjirokastra, un oraș-fortăreață aflat în partea de sud a Albaniei, foarte aproape de granița cu Grecia. În Gjirokastra - un oraș arogant care se consideră uneori mai deștept decât toată țara la un loc -, bârfa, discuțiile și supozițiile sunt la loc de cinste. Localnicii analizează minuțios evoluțiile pe scena politicii europene, raportând jocurile de putere la relațiile dintre doi medici ai orașului - care, fără a fi înrudiți, poartă același nume. Între cei doi există însă o diferență notabilă: Gurameto cel mare studiase în Germania, iar Gurameto cel mic în Italia, astfel că opinia publică îi transformă în adevărate simboluri care oglindesc relațiile dintre cele două țări. În septembrie 1943, după capitularea Italiei, trupele germane intră în țară dinspre Grecia și prima lor oprire este chiar Gjirokastra. Drept represalii pentru atacarea lor de către partizani, nemții bombardează orașul și iau optzeci de ostateci. Atunci are loc evenimentul nefast care dă titlul romanului: spre surprinderea localnicilor, doctorul Gurameto cel mare îl invită la cină pe colonelul Fritz von Schwabe - aparent, un vechi prieten și coleg din timpul anilor de studii în Germania. În timpul cinei, medicul îi șoptește niște vorbe misterioase colonelului, care, în mod ciudat, îl conving pe acesta să elibereze ostaticii - inclusiv un evreu. Sensul acestui eveniment nu este înțeles de localnici, care nu se pot decide dacă ceea ce a făcut Gurameto este sau nu un act de trădare: aparent, nemții obținuseră ceva în schimbul eliberării ostaticilor, însă nimeni nu știe ce anume. Din conversația de la cină a rămas doar una dintre frazele medicului: Eu nu sunt Albania, cum nici tu nu ești Germania, Fritz. Noi suntem altceva.După trei romane de Ismail Kadaré citite anul trecut, toate foarte faine, s-a întâmplat și nenorocirea: am dat peste cartea de față, care nu prea mi-a plăcut. Nu sunt foarte sigură care a fost motivul; ori temele abordate de scriitor și-au pierdut din impact (fiind preponderent aceleași - comunismul, miturile, tradițiile albaneze), ori cartea a fost într-adevăr mai slabă. Scriitura mi s-a părut prea facilă, aproape neglijentă pe alocuri, iar în ceea ce privește magia de care vorbesc unii cititori, eu una nu am simțit-o deloc. Mi-a plăcut totuși felul în care scriitorul surprinde zbuciumul și confuzia albanezilor cu privire la statutul lor, greu încercat de numeroasele schimbări pe scena istorică: țara a fost, pe rând, sub ocupația Imperiului Otoman, a Italiei fasciste și a Germaniei naziste, pentru ca tradițiile ei să fie înăbușite apoi sub cumplita dictatură comunistă a lui Enver Hodja. Importanța cutumelor străvechi, legătura strânsă cu misterioasa lume de dincolo sau înclinația spre mituri și legende se explică ceva mai bine prin prisma acestor influențe exterioare, care au încercat să erodeze identitatea poporului albanez.Dacă aveți chef să citiți mai mult decât atât, varianta lungă se află pe blog:

  • Calzean
    2019-03-15 06:42

    Kadare writes interesting novels. This one is part fable, part history, part a commentary on the impact of successive domination of various empires who had commanded over Albania. It is also a commentary on men who use the opportunity to use their power provided by an idealogical regime as a means to demonstrate their manliness.1943, Germany invades Albania. In Gjirokaster, the invasion is met by a few shots from someone. The Germans take hostages and will kill them if the shooter(s) do not come forward. The local doctor invites the commander of the Germans to dinner (apparently they are old friends) and by the next morning the hostages have been released and the Germans moved on.1953, a combination of East Germans, Russians and Albanians interrogate the doctor as part of the Stalin-era crack down on doctors and a fear of the dinner in 1943 being part of an international Jewish plot.

  • Danielle
    2019-03-25 03:43

    Hoe moet je dit boek nu omschrijven? Het is een vrij gruwelijk sprookje, magisch-realistisch, maar ook met feiten uit de geschiedenis van Albanië en het communistische verleden van heel Oost-Europa en de 2e wereldoorlog in Albanië. Daarnaast speelt het zich af in Gjirokaster en als je daar al eens geweest bent, herken je plaatsen in het stadje die in dit boek beschreven worden. Het verhaal loopt in een soort van merkwaardige cirkel: het verhaal eindigt deels zoals het begint, maar dan met een ander persoon. Ook volksverhalen van Albanië komen terug in dit boek. Ik heb genoten van deze roman en wil zeker meer van deze schrijver lezen, te beginnen met zijn andere boeken die zich afspelen in Gjirokaster, waar ik een maand geleden nog was. Jammer dat je hier geen foto's kunt toevoegen om als illustratie van de verschillende plekken in de stad die in het boek genoemd worden.

  • Ryan
    2019-02-22 05:06


  • Sara
    2019-03-13 05:54

    In a non linear narrative, in a style that reminds me of our late Saramago, Kadare shows the confusion of war times and the effects multiple regimes had in the city of Gjirokastër and its people. It is also a tale of the abuses and euphoria said regimes caused and the reaping of the consequences. With a touch of mystery, this is a novel for those that wish to discover the not so visible repercussions of WWII. If you are not comfortable with a non linear narrative style you might want to skip this one.

  • Emkoshka
    2019-03-09 23:06

    My goal at the moment is to read more books by non-Western writers so I was delighted to come across Ann Morgan's blog 'A Year of Reading the World' recently and discover a whole list of reading options. I picked Ismail Kadare to try first as I visited Albania in July 2015 and was enchanted by this long impenetrable country and its otherworldliness. In a Europe that is increasingly becoming homogenised and gentrified, Albania stands out as a country that is rough and ready to reward pioneering travellers with hidden gems. I only got as far south as Berat but I'd love to visit Gjirokastër too, the setting of this book. It would be hard to get into this story if you didn't have an interest in Albanian history or hadn't visited the country; it's imbued with descriptions of history, culture, geography, society that would leave many people cold. If you want a story about families revelling in sunshine, grapes and romance, stick to your la-di-dah books about France and Italy. This book is about WWII, the rise of communism, local politics and the absurdist frontiers of a Socialist society. One of the endorsements on the back of the book is that 'Kadare is the equal of the often evoked Kafka'. This is borne out here, in a novel which moves fluidly between historical primer and dream-like sequences involving a local doctor and a German general. Despite being told in a prosaic way, it's a challenging read because despite everything that is revealed, everything remains opaque, a bit like the enigmatic country herself. Probably not the best Kadare to start with, but I'll try more of his work.

  • Juliet Wilson
    2019-02-22 23:42

    I realised Ismail Kadare was a great writer when I read his novel Broken April, which tells the story of blood feuds in the mountains of Albania. I've been waiting for him to win the Nobel Prize for Literature ever since.The Fall of the Stone City is set in Gjirokastër, Albania, birthplace of both Kadare himself and the Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha. The story starts in September 1943 as Nazi troops prepare to bombard the city. However, something stops them and it turns out that the Nazi colonel remembers he has an old friend from University living in Gjirokastër, Big Dr Gurameto, one of two surgeons in the city (the other who is also called Dr Gurameto). A reunion dinner ensues which leads to the doctor being considered a traitor, but then the hostages are released, soi perhaps he's a hero?The story continues through the city's changing political fortunes. It's a city that has been invaded by foreign powers many times and is used to this, the residents carry on as though nothing has happened even as leaders come and go.This is a enigmatic and intriguing novel that illuminates a key period in Albanian history, while asking questions about the nature of truth, power and loyalty, lightened by a dark humour. Any reading of it probably benefits from some knowledge of Albanian history, customs and folklore and some knowledge of Kadare's other novels.

  • Giusy Pappalardo
    2019-02-25 06:47

    Strano libro questo.Parte benissimo, con una prosa chiara e la descrizione perfetta di luogo, contesto storico e personaggi.Man mano si perde nei rivoli di una sorta di realismo magico che mi ha disorientata, e nemmeno tanto lasciata agganciata alla storia e alla lettura. La cosa interessante di questo libro per me è stato l'aspetto storico e geografico. L'Albania che storia ha avuto? Cosa sappiamo di questo popolo?Leggendo scopro che in Albania si rifugiarono ebrei ungheresi e polacchi per sfuggire alla deportazione nazista e che gli albanesi li nascosero e difesero in virtù di una legge non scritta, la Besa, che prevede ospitalità assoluta nei confronti di un ospite, ancor di più se profugo.Solo questo vale il libro. È uno di quei casi in cui il contenuto decisamente supera la forma.Per saperne di più vi lascio un link

  • Emily
    2019-03-01 06:43

    I liked this; brutal, satirical, pointed, and very political.“I don’t understand this,” said a patient on crutches. “Say it straight. What’s this new time you’re talking about?”“It’s called a new order. It’s what happens when the system changes. The first day is usually called zero hour. Then the numbering starts, one, two, three and so on. When they gave us the anaesthetic it was, let’s say, a certain time on such-and-such a day. We went under, and out of time. But time paid no attention. Time doesn’t wait, it goes on, and we were left behind. They’ve reached day two but we’re not even at zero. We’re minus. Now do you see it?”“I see bullshit,” said a third patient.

  • Sorin Hadârcă
    2019-03-01 05:08

    A little masterpiece: history and fate condensed as never before. Reminds me of Marquez but stays very central European because of its humorous touch.

  • Hugh Coverly
    2019-03-16 06:52

    After re-reading this novel I've come away with a totally different experience. Yes, it is a ghost story (they seem inhabit all of Kadare's novels) but it is a novel filled with terror. It begins with the Nazi occupation of Albania following Italy's defeat and early withdrawal from the war, in September 1943. The city of Gjirokastër, an ancient medieval city, is threatened with destruction when German forces are fired on as they arrive to occupy the city. The local surgeon, Big Dr Gurameto using his old friendship with the commander saves the lives of eighty hostages, including a local Jewish citizen. After the German defeat come the communists and their takeover of the country. In the final third of the novel Kadare presents a terrifyingly horrific description of the terror that many Albanians faced under the government of Enver Hoxha, who, like Ismail Kadare, was born in Gjirokastër. Everyone was under suspicion, and no one could escape the long reach of the special police who exercised extraordinary powers to uncover what they regarded as the truth. Big Dr Gurameto is taken into custody in February 1953, several weeks before Stalin dies. There is a belief that there is a Jewish conspiracy to kill all the communist leaders worldwide by means of a secret league of doctors. The special interrogators, Albanian, German, and Russian, link Gurameto's suspected role in the conspiracy back to the dinner he held for his German college friend, at which he secured the release of the hostages facing certain death. Kadare's masterful storytelling highlights the brutality of a doctoral government, the fragility of both the prisoners and the interrogators, and truth is little more than a tissue of beliefs, ideas, lies, fears, and, yes, even facts that can be distorted to become whatever is necessary to exert power, whether that be the power of hold on to one's life and sanity or to hold on to state power. **************Kadare is at his best when he makes connections between the present and the past, and he does this again in The Fall of the Stone City. The past is not simple the past. Far from being dead, the past haunts the present. As it turns out, there are many ghosts in this superb novel. Once again Kadare recalls the ancient Albanian code, The Kanun. Instead of focussing on the blood law, as he has done most memorably in Broken April, here he calls up honour through hospitality. This ancient law is put to the test when Big Dr Gurameto welcomes not simply an old friend and and strangers into his home, but hosts the nation's enemy, the Nazi occupiers. This meeting recalls the past, shapes the present and has future consequences. Canada's Alice Munro, also a past winner of the Man Booker International Prize, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. Can Kadare's Nobel be far behind?

  • Ellie
    2019-03-10 06:47

    The people of Gjirokastër spend their days speculating on the rivalry between two doctors; Big Dr Gurameto with his German connections and Little Dr Gurameto with his Italian. When, in 1943, the Nazis roll up to the city gates, a group of citizens fire upon them. Whilst the city folk fear the implications of this rebellion, Big Dr Gurameto recognises an old college friend in the Colonel and invites him and his men to dinner. Soon rumours are flying.The Albanian city of Gjirokastër is a character in its own right in The Fall of the Stone City. The people are more representative of the city than individual personalities and this gives it the feeling of being a piece of folklore. The doctors come across as being the equivalent of celebrities but Big Dr Gurameto’s actions become entwined with the fate of the city. The style is full of charm and gives in the impression that the Nazi occupation was much more civilised and amenable than the Communist rule that came after.I always appreciate learning a little bit of history in a novel and I previously had no knowledge of Albania during the war. However as the story progresses, the lines blur between fact and fiction and something at the end makes me feel that is a reworked piece of Albanian mythology. And it’s the ending that really brings it together for me to make it a great little novella. I think you need to approach it as a piece of folklore rather than straight forward historical fiction.I haven’t read any other works by Ismail Kadare so I can’t compare but I will be looking out for his work in future.

  • Linden
    2019-03-06 06:55

    The Fall of the Stone City by Ismail Kadare, translated by John Hodgson In The Fall of the Stone City, Kadare blends Albanian history and fiction. It is 1943 and Mussolini has just withdrawn from Albania. Now German Commander Colonel Fritz von Schwabe enters its capitol city, Gjirokaster, from Greece. He has blanketed the town with fliers proclaiming his arrival as that of a friend of Albania but has been fired upon. No one claims credit for this, neither the Albanians nor the communists.Von Schwabe then calls on an old school friend from university, the esteemed Dr. Gurameto, asking him the reason for the assault upon his army. The doctor extends traditional hospitality and invites him for dinner.The townspeople can hear music from the gramophone and can see the lights and guests passing the windows. But what actually happened that night? Was it true that von Schwabe asked for eighty hostages to put right the affront? Was it true that Dr. Guramento successfully argued for the hostages to be spared? Did he really say "Albanians do not betray their guests?" which included Jakoel the Jew?At first it reminded me of reading Nicholas Nickleby in high school and The Sea of Fertility by Yukio Mishima in later years. I had to get used to a different style of narrative interwoven with bloody Balkan history and disorienting magical realism. (168 p.)

  • Jim
    2019-03-10 06:56

    Writing over at The Modern Novel – a blog, the author (who only appears to be identified by the initials ‘TMN’) talks at length about Kadare’s writing. He has read over twenty of Kadare’s novels including those only available in French at the moment (Kadare writes in Albanian and then the works are translated into French and then from the French into English). In the article TMN has this to say about Kadare’s book:[D]espite Canongate’s The much anticipated new novel, I doubt if The Fall of the Stone City is much anticipated by all that many people.I can understand why he might say that. Sadly he’s probably right. I’ve been dropping hints for months since I first heard it was coming out but then I suspect that both he (assuming he’s a he) and I are in the minority. And that is a shame because after an intriguing opening and an admittedly slow middle (which I was helped to appreciate by having first read Chronicle in Stone but which feels slow because we have so much hanging in midair) comes an absolute page-turner of an ending. You can read my full review here.

  • Caroline Anna Bock
    2019-03-25 01:55

    I haven't read any books by Albanian writers before THE FALL OF THE STONE CITY, but I will be reading more of Ismail Kadare. This novel was a wild ride through the Nazi occupation of Albania, one fateful dinner between a doctor and his supposed long-ago university friend, and the brutal communist oppression of Albania in the 1950s. It's a slim book, 168 pages, but packed with the evocative imagery of one doctor caught in a Kafka-like web of Nazis, and then, Stalin's secret service police. One warning: A basic knowledge of World War II and post World War II history will help the reader follow the story-- and there are no heroes here--but it's worth venturing into this tale, if only to remember that we are all human. The Fall of the Stone CityAnd after you consider this book, consider my new mature young adult novel, also a tale of humanity gone wrong, BEFORE MY EYES. Before My Eyes

  • Mihai Giurgiulescu
    2019-03-07 04:44

    Almost novella-like, this story is classic Kadare: surreal and irrational characters and actions are thrown together to puzzle the mind about what life really could have been like in the Balkans during WWII and in the communist era that followed it. At the same time, it feels vague and unfocused, with a lot of threads left hanging. A key scene at the beginning is being referred to over and over throughout the book, yet its significance is never fully explained. With some unnecessary tangents and little character development, this is not Kadare's finest work, but it's still better than a lot of the other modern "stuff" out there.

  • Hope So
    2019-03-02 04:50

    Kατα τυχη αυτο ηταν το δευτερο στη σειρα βιβλιο Αλβανου συγγραφεα που διαβασα αυτες τις μερες. Εχω την αισθηση απο αυτο το μικρο δειγμα των 2 μονο βιβλιων που διαβασα, οτι η γραφη των γειτονων φανταζει περιεργη στον ελληνα αναγνωστη. Δε νομιζω οτι ειναι τοσο θεμα μεταφρασης, σε αυτο ειδικα μου φανηκε αρκετα προσεγμενη, οσο θεμα στυλ. Με ξενισε ο τροπος που ηταν γραμμενο. Η ιστορια θα μπορουσε να ειναι ενδιαφερουσα, αλλα παλι ενιωσα οτι ελειπαν πραγματα για να ειναι ολοκληρωμενη. Overall, μετριο.

  • Matt Kuhns
    2019-03-08 00:04

    This is good. Kadare has never let me down so far. I can't say as this one left a great impression on me, as did The Pyramid. But it was certainly compelling enough while reading it. I think Kadare generally walks a remarkably fine line. So elliptical and mysterious that one might feel disappointed, after buying into the questions raised in his stories, he seems always to provide just precisely enough answers and no more. Rather extraordinary now that I think about it.

  • Joyce
    2019-02-26 22:43

    Although I had heard of it, I had to look Albania up on a map as I started reading this short novel. The story of a doctor and a fateful dinner, the tale is by turns fantastical, highly political and a fable. I enjoyed the opportunity to get another perspective on the world in which we live.

  • Encruzilhadas Literárias
    2019-03-20 22:47

    "Um Jantar a Mais" é a escolha de Março do projecto World Book Tour, onde o grupo viajou até à Albânia através das páginas. Tido por muitos como um dos autores que há muito já deveria ter sido consagrado com um Nobel da Literatura, Ismail Kadaré traz-nos uma obra que vinca pelos seus ideais e posições reflexivas, sob um olhar escrutinador perante a História da Europa e as repercussões tidas na Albânia, o seu país natal.Este livro é uma parábola, tragico-cómica e alegórica que compreende um período da História do séc. XX de completa transformação na Europa. As transformações ideológicas e as suas influências sociais surgem caricaturadas na pequena aldeia de Girokäster, cujos acontecimentos singulares ganham proporções desenxabidas mas bastante claras e perfeitamente honestas sobre as vicissitudes, diferenças e complementaridades de dois regimes ditatoriais, que embora em extremos opostos de um espectro ideológico, se aproximam por diversas vezes nos métodos utilizados para o controlo da população e para a prestação de uma lealdade cega aos líderes que as compõem.O discurso ligeiro, mas poético, comprometido mas levianamente expondo as construções da acção com perícia e uma deliciosa índole narrativa, tornaram esta pequena leitura num prazer imenso. É ainda assim uma leitura que, ainda que bastante fácil, apela a um olhar perscrutador por parte dos leitores, na medida em que nada é deixado ao acaso e todos os encadeamentos e reflexões são propositadamente colocadas e com intentos claros. Auxiliará também os leitores terem alguma cultura geral e conhecimento sobre os períodos de ocupação Nazi assim como da Guerra Fria para esta composição lida nas entrelinhas que, ao fim ao cabo, é a missão do livro na sua plenitude. Ainda assim, não é descabido que quem se sinta pouco confortável com estas temáticas não subentenda a mensagem, mesmo para além do plano principal da narrativa. Ismail Kadaré foi sem dúvida uma óptima surpresa trazida pelo projecto doWorld Book Tour e irei certamente enveredar por mais leituras de obras do autor.Sobre o autor: "Ismaïl Kadaré nasceu em 1936, em Gjirokastra, no Sul da Albânia. Estudou em Tirana e em Moscovo no Instituto Gorky. Após a ruptura do seu país com a União Soviética, em 1960, iniciou uma actividade jornalística e publicou os seus primeiros poemas. Entre 1970 e 1982 foi deputado da Assembleia Popular de Tirana, tendo em Outubro de 1990 obtido asilo político em França. É o mais conhecido escritor albanês e as suas obras estão traduzidas em diversas línguas. De entre as seus livros mais importantes, destacam-se, os romances: O General do Exército Morto (1963), Crónica da Cidade de Pedra (1971), Os Tambores da Chuva (1972), O Concerto (1988), e já editados pelas Publicações Dom Quixote, Abril Despedaçado (1978), adaptado ao cinema pelo realizador brasileiro Walter Salles, autor do filme Central do Brazil, O Palácio dos Sonhos (1981), A Pirâmide (1992), e selecção de textos Três Contos Fúnebres pelo Kosovo (1998). Em Junho de 2005, Kadaré foi galardoado com o primeiro Man Booker International Prize pela sua carreira literária." Fonte: WOOK - Cláudia

  • Bob Newman
    2019-03-08 01:45

    doctor's dinner dooms duoI wonder if Ismail Kadare is capable of writing a bad book. Mixing myth, allegory, history, and a kind of wry humor, he has produced an amazing genre over the years as yet unrewarded by the Nobel Prize committee, who often choose writers half as talented. If his work seems dark and somehow menacing, like a sudden view of an approaching storm, Albania's fate might have something to do with it. Emerging from centuries of Ottoman rule in 1912, this small country went through monarchy, a few years of a chaotic republic, more monarchy by a self-proclaimed king, Italian occupation, German occupation, a devastating civil war at the same time as war against the occupiers, and 47 years of Communist dictatorship, before finally being cast up unprepared on the beach of modern Europe in 1991.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? His old school friend from Germany turns out to be the invading commander---or does he ? Maybe he's even dead. Later, in 1953, when the Communists are in power, and Stalin is in his last days, a high powered investigation of events ten years before takes place due to the infamous "Doctors' Plot" in the USSR.. Why did the doctors act as they did ? Can we get to the bottom of this ? Can you get to the bottom of anything in history ? Does it all have to do with ghosts of the past that in Albania, as in Faulkner's Mississippi, never disappear ? Murky, full of lies, contradictions and irony, fables and propaganda, even the psychology of torturers and the tortured, this is another tour de force by one of the world's greatest living writers. Read it.Read less

  • Bbrown
    2019-03-01 02:49

    To me The Fall of the Stone City falls short of Kadare’s best works because it lacks focus, instead it’s a disjointed journey through certain scenes in Albanian history (mainly its occupations during World War II and the rise of Communist rule) strung together by focusing on the protagonist, an Albanian doctor named Gurametos. The Dr. Gurametos plays a pivotal role during the German occupation by hosting a dinner, which many years later leads to the doctor being investigated, and it’s these things that serve as the central events of the book. In combination these events flirt with giving the book a central mystery, but the details of the dinner are simultaneously never that much in question yet never fully explained. So the hints of the mystery are left unsatisfying, something I similarly found to be the case in Kadare’s The Ghost Rider, but that book turned the lack of a typical mystery and solution into an advantage by making the story about something even more important in the end. The Fall of the Stone City doesn’t really do that. In short this book doesn’t do much to distinguish itself from Kadare’s other works. Even in one of his lesser works like this one, however, Kadare shows his talent, like with how swiftly he establishes the unique friendship of the story's two doctors, where the relationship they have with each other is quite distinct from the relationship the city thinks they have.I didn’t find this one as good as Kadare’s Broken April, The File on H, The Palace of Dreams, or The General of the Dead Army, but I’d say that if you preferred The Three-Arched Bridge to the titles I just listed then you may enjoy The Fall of the Stone City more than I did, as I felt the two works had a similar tone. 3/5.

  • Jamie MacDonald Jones
    2019-03-22 04:52

    Despite the middling review, I do think this was a book worth reading. It is a novel of great ambiguity, which is central to Kadaré's themes. The boundaries between fascism and authoritarian communism are often crossed and at points meld into one. The characters do the same, presented as good, bad or both. Kadaré does some great work of weaving Albanian history and folklore into what is essentially a politcal (or social) critique while also throwing in historical facts as background and a thriller-style plot point. Really the author does particularly well to condense all of this into one novel.The reason I mark it down is because I feel there could have been a little more in the way of character development to really complement the plot and at times I found myself struggling, having to re-read sections as they were entirely confusing and I still didn't get the point. Perhaps it was just me being dense...