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The Accident [Hardcover]

Ismail Kadare
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 Aug 2010
On the autobahn in Vienna a taxi leaves the carriageway and strikes the crash barrier, flinging its male and female passengers out of its back doors as it spins through the air. The driver cannot explain why he lost control; he only says that the mysterious couple in the back seat seemed to be about to kiss ...Set against the tumultuous backdrop of war and its aftermath in the Balkans, The Accident intimately documents an affair between two people caught in each other's webs. The investigation into their deaths uncovers a mutually destructive obsession that mirrors the conflicts of the region. A destabilising mixture of vivid hallucination and cold reality, Ismail Kadare's new novel is a bold and fascinating departure.

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd (19 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847673392
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847673398
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 870,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


One of the most important voices in literature today. --Metro

A master storyteller. --John Carey

Ismail Kadare is one of Europe's most consistently interesting and powerful contemporary novelists, a writer whose stark, memorable prose imprints itself on the reader's consciousness. --Los Angeles Times

One of the great writers of our time. --Scotsman

About the Author

Born in 1936, ISMAIL KADARE is Albania's best-known poet and novelist. Translations of his novels have appeared in more than forty countries. In 2005 he was awarded the first Man Booker International Prize for 'a body of work written by an author who has had a truly global impact.' He is the recipient of the highly prestigious 2009 Principe de Asturias de las Letras in Spain.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I'm missing something 16 Feb 2011
By TopCat
This book started out promisingly, and the first part describing the accident that kills a couple and the official enquiry got me wanting to keep reading. The testimony of the taxi-driver set up a mystery to be resolved. However in Parts 2 and 3 the dreamlike (or should it be nightmarish) quality the narrative takes on had me utterly bewildered. The second part is a recreation of the last 40 days of the two main characters, and is detailing their complex affair from the viewpoint of both parties. The final part is an attempt to explain what happened to them on the fateful day. I have three possbile theories as to why I hated this book. 1) I'm far more stupid than I thought and it has just gone completely over my head 2) the author's aim was to disorientate and create the same sense of confusion in the reader about the relationship as Rovena appears to have or 3) it's rubbish. As it has won awards and other people rave, and I'm hoping I'm not very dense I think I'll go for option 2) and say that it was sucessful in achieving that aim but didn't create an enjoyable book for me.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing contemporary Balkan/EU novel 22 Aug 2010
Thanks to a long history of censorship Balkan writers have a reputation for approaching and describing their subject matter indirectly, using dreams, symbolism, allegories, and historical events rather than tackling any theme head on. IK is no exception. What appears to be a fairly straightforward novel in Parts 1 and 2, is undone in Part 3 and ends in obfuscation, with symbolics and an ending that will convince or satisfy no one.
Besfort and Rovena, both Albanians, have known each other for 14 years and have been engaged in a LAT-relationship for nine. B, a former freedom fighter, works for the Council of Europe in a human rights/international criminal law capacity and is constantly on the move between European centres of power like Luxemburg, Vienna, Brussels and Strasbourg, but not The Hague.
Rovena is a pale, beautiful local NGO-staffer in Albania, who secures a scholarship to Graz, Austria, a more convenient venue from which to honour B's occasional invitations for a rendezvous, which are always consumed in hotels. She is a confused person, permanently insecure about B, herself, her own feelings and acts, challenging B for being a tyrant, apologising the next day and wondering why she said it.
The pair dies in the first pages of the book. Part 1 is a summary of the Austrian officials' efforts to discover the cause of the fatal car accident and possible motives for foul play. One nameless investigator continues the quest for truth for years on end. He put together Part 2 describing the couple's last 39/40 weeks on the basis of airline tickets, hotel bills, letters, content of agendas, interviews. Part 2 describes not what happened exactly, but how, on the basis of the data uncovered, what R and B's sudden death could have caused.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
(3.5 stars) Shortly after a taxi leaves the Miramax Hotel in Vienna for the airport, it somersaults into a gully, and kills the man and woman passengers, both Albanian. Three witnesses give information to the Austrian police. The dead man, Besfort Y., was an analyst for the Council of Europe on western Balkan affairs, and he had been a "thorn in the side of Yugoslavia" before its divisions-there is suspicion that he might have been responsible for the bombing of the country. Despite this, the accident is initially thought to be a routine traffic accident. It is not till several months later that the European Road Safety Institute regards this as an "unusual" accident. Three months after that, the State of Serbia and Montenegro, which had had both victims under surveillance, begins to look into the accident, and their interest, in turn, sparks the interest of the Albanian Secret Service, an eventuality which makes the narrator wonder if this is a political murder after the fall of communism, or an example of residual "communist paranoia."

At this point at the beginning of this new novel by Albanian author Ismail Kadare, the story appears to be fairly straightforward--a police procedural or the beginning of an espionage thriller, but despite the author's almost bare-bones style, the novel quickly becomes full of confusing information and evidence. Nothing is as simple as it seems here. About the characters, we know only what they actually tell us about themselves and their relationship, not what the reader may be accustomed to concluding after seeing the characters in action and interaction.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing, but maybe deliberately 25 July 2012
I found this book confusing and, at times, difficult to follow.

The story is set long after the end of Communist rule in Albania.

It concerns the extremely thorough investigation of an automobile accident that occurred 17 Km outside of Vienna. The car, a taxi containing two passengers and its driver, is thrown off the road. No other vehicles are involved. The driver survives. So far, this much is a certainty in this novel by Albania's leading novelist Ismail Kadaré. The rest is far from certain.

For much of the book, it appears as if the two passengers, who are found dead by the roadside, are Besfort Y and his lady friend Rovena St. As Besfort Y is of importance to the Albanians, an Albanian investigator doggedly tries to reconstruct the events leading up to the accident.

With a series of unreliable witnesses, including the taxi driver, he descends into a black hole of confusion and confounding. This does not make for easy reading, but I suspect it gives the reader a good insight into the tortuous thought processes that were needed to survive the oppressive regime that was inspired by Albania's long serving dictator Enver Hoxha. In doing this, the novel is extremely successful, but it certainly addled my brain, especially late at night when I read most of it!

I have given the novel only 3 stars. This is not because it's a sub-standard book, but simply because I did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped that I would.

This is a book and should appeal to those who enjoy philosophy.
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