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Chronicle In Stone Paperback – 3 May 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books (3 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841959081
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841959085
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.2 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 269,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Chronicle in Stone is stunning, the quintessential tale of war seen through a child's eyes." Los Angeles Times "Sophisticated and accomplished in its poetic prose and narrative deftness." The New Yorker "Epic in its simplicity; the history of a young Albanian and a primitive Albania awakening into the modern world." Minneapolis Star Tribune"

Book Description

With an introduction by James Wood --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Meynell TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gjirokaster is an ancient stone city in southern Albania - not far from the Greek border. It was the birthplace and hometown of the wonderful novelist, Ismail Kadare. It was also where the terrifying Communist dictator, Enver Hoxha came from. Hoxha is a ghostly figure who lurks on the peripheries of many of Kadare's books (e.g. The Successor and Agamemnon's Daughter: A Novella and Stories). And this, his great (semi-autobiographical) masterpiece, Chronicle in Stone is no exception. As I'm due to return to Albania in a few weeks, I eagerly picked this book up on holiday and my expectations were surpassed.

The narrator is a young boy trying to come to terms with the turmoil of war. His ancient city is swarming with occupiers, collaborators, revolutionaries, survivors, ordinary folk just trying to exist. And in the early 1940s, all is confusion - only a few decades after Albania's independence from the Ottoman Empire, the city changed hands several times back and forth between Italians, Greeks (with the aid of the British RAF bombers), Nazis - not to mention the various Albanian factions each with their own agendas (monarchists, nationalists, communists). Trying to understand the world of adults is hard enough for children - but when this is going on, it's impossible.

Kadare recaptures the innocent confusion of children with pitch perfect poignancy. Here is a little moment where the young narrator has a go.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Hutchings on 21 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kadare recreates the irrepressible wonderment and imagination of childhood. All the characters come alive, their traits seemingly emphasised by child-like observation and innocence. Unsophisticated routines of long sheltered traditions and community are shattered by war and foreign intervention but there is a timeless quality in the depiction of human foible and behaviour.
The introduction is informative. The translation reads well,suggesting a poetic quality in the original.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 May 2007
Format: Paperback
Another atmospheric book about Albania by its great national writer. This one is about his native town, the ancient, higgeldy-piggeldy, stone-built city of Gjirokastër, near the Greek border. It seems to be permanently either swept by freezing winds or drenched in rain. Its older inhabitants are primitive and superstitious, especially the old women, and they believe in witchcraft. The story is told in the first person by a child. He must be very young, though his age is unspecified. He has a poetic imagination and the ability to put it into words which are both so extraordinary that they defy credibility: for example, he sees the raindrops which are caught in a cistern as sentient and resentful prisoners; or he imagine his eyes as sucking in images. Never mind that these seem to be more like the imagination of an adult poet - simply enjoy these and other wonderful conceits throughout the book for what they are. More credible: the boy becomes obsessed with words, tries to fit images to idioms like `devouring someone with his eyes'. When he hears that soon there will be `a slaughter of nations', the boy, whose has been horrified by a visit to a slaughter-house, tries to imagine what the slaughter of nations might look like.

He soon finds out. The story covers the period from 1939 to 1944. When it opens, the Italians, who had taken Albania in April 1939, are in occupation. The Greeks capture the town in 1940; the Italians recapture it briefly, are driven out again, but then return once more. When Italy leaves the war in 1943, the Germans take over Albania.

The first sign of war is that, just outside the town, the plain where the cows have been grazing is being turned into an aerodrome.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By starski on 12 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this book while spending a week in Albania last summer and went to Gjirokaster, where the book is set. Chronicle in Stone is about a boy growing up in Albania during the Second World War. This book is written so beautifully invoking a real sense of this town in Albania, built on the side of a hill with steep stone roads. It is deeply moving as you read about what happens to the town, thrust into the middle of the war with the flag placed at the top of the castle changing on an almost daily basis from Italian to German and back again. Albania (and Albanians) are so frequently misjudged, as I learnt from the comments I had from people on hearing that I was going there. This book would undoubtedly open some people's eyes somewhat. A real pleasure to read - one of those books that only once you finish it and look back do you see the full picture.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Flembo on 11 July 2007
Format: Paperback
In this intriguing novel Kadare creates wonderful atmosphere and portrays his childhood town through the eyes of a young boy. He allows the reader both to picture all the idiosynchracies of Southern Albanian life with its mixture of traditions and superstitions for him/herself, and through the narrators youthful innocence.
Kadare allows us to see how the all consuming nature of the second world war broke into the relatively insular life of Gjirokaster.
The narrative through a young boys eyes also provides humour and fear.
An easier read than most Kadare novels
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