The Fall of the Stone City: Book summary and reviews of The Fall of the Stone City by Ismail Kadare

The Fall of the Stone City

By Ismail Kadare

The Fall of the Stone City
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2013,
    176 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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

"Starred Review. Mesmerizing ... A well-crafted translation of a European masterpiece." - Booklist

"A harsh but artful study of power, truth and personal integrity." - 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 (UK)

"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 (UK)

"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 (UK)

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Author Information

Ismail Kadare Author Biography

Sophie Bassouls

Albanian writer Ismail Kadare was born in Gjirokaster, Albania in 1936; his father worked in the civil service.   He studied at the Faculty of History and Philology at the University of Tirana, graduating with a teaching diploma in 1956, before moving to Moscow to study at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute, where he stayed until 1960 when relations between Albania and the Soviet Union soured. 

His first collection of poetry was published when he was 18.  His first novel, The General of the Dead Army, was published when he was 27. 

Although some people viewed him as a dissident during the communist era, he disagrees.  In an interview on Albanian TV in 2006 he was asked whether he had ever tried to present himself as a dissident, to ...

... Full Biography

Name Pronunciation
Ismail Kadare: IS-mail ka-DA-reh

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