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The Concert [Paperback]

Ismail Kadare
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 28 Feb 1998 -- Trade-In Store
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Book Description

28 Feb 1998
A glimpse into the melting pot of reputations and rumours in the twilight years of communism in Albania, as the morning's orthodoxies become heresies by dinner-time, and everyone must step nimbly to keep out of jail. The fragile nature of political realities in present-day China too, is summed up.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 444 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade; 1st Arcade Paperback Ed edition (28 Feb 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559704152
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559704151
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 14 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,861,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"His finest book is The Concert, an epic study of the Albanians when living under the thumb of their sole world ally, the Chinese. It is half realism, half Borgesian, and the form and content jointly stun" (Independent)

"The Concert is a splendidly deep and serious novel that entirely transcends, as it were, its unremarkable outer garment. Kadare's achievement is to dramatise truthfully throughout. This is a book to read and re-read" (Guardian)

"He has been compared to Gogol, Kafka and Orwell. But Kadare's is an original voice, universal yet deeply rooted in his own soil" (Independent on Sunday)

"It is Shakespearian in its sweep of history with its insertions of poetic and theatrical farce and its description of the contortions Albanians had to perform to survive Marxist doctrine" (Sydney Morning Herald) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Albania's best-known novelist and poet and one of Europe's great living writers, he bears comparison to Gogal, Kafka and Orwell --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Albanian politics 1 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kadare's The Concert is a fascinating glimpse into the political world of Albania and the trials and tribulations of a small state buffeted by the Cold War and international politics. He tells his tale with humour.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary 6 Nov 2008
This is Kadare at his wonderful best, a book that works at every level - human, dramatic, political, philosophic. Read it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best of the century 18 Dec 2002
By Andrew Ng Hock Soon - Published on
this book is amazing. it's so sweeping in scope and vast in its concerns. chronicling the decline and eventual fall of the diplomatic ties between albania and china, the novel centers on several characters whose lives are directly and indirectly implicated by the sinister game-play of doublespeak and ambivalent symbolic gestures which are hallmarks of chinese politics. this novel is relentless in its critical view of a very complicated relationship, but it does not fall into the trap of blaming or accusation on either. instead, Kadare carefully delineates the various nuances emitted by the Chinese government which are then carefully, if not always successfully, interpreted by the Albanian government so as to chart the next political move. Mao Zedong is given a certain prominence here, and the novel's marvellous rendition of this strange man and his predilection with death and the theatre would give any psychoanalyst a field day. in my view, the most compelling section of the novel is the interchapter of the tragedy of macbeth, which can be read as a cleverly intertext of the history of the power-struggle between Zedong and his marshall, Lin Biao, and/or as the superior-subordinate dialectic between China and Albania. truly, Kadare is one of the 20th (and the 21st) century's most important writer, and this novel is enough to vouch for his excellence.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing novel about power 9 Jun 2000
By A Customer - Published on
This novel is often considered as the second in the "winter series" of Ismail Kadare. The first one is "The Great Winter" dealing with the worsening relations between Albania and the Soviet Empire. "The Concert" appeared in Albania in 1988, and dealt in turn with the relations between communist China and Albania. Kadare profited from the communist world's internal cleavages, and pretending to denounce and critizice the Albanian state's enemy (that is, the Chinese regime), he actually denounced Communism itself. The novel has lengthy descriptions of the Chinese dictator at that time, Mao Tse Dung, and deals with the Chinese culture in general, although it is by no means trying to faithfully make it approachable to readers. The main character is an Albanian writer, who is sent to China in a particularly difficult period in the relations of the two countries. Ismail Kadare masterfully describes the intrinsic communist politics. The novel is wonderfully written, has a terrific plot, and is an amazing witness on the power-play.
4.0 out of 5 stars Albania divorces China 28 Oct 2013
By ADAM - Published on
In 1978, China broke off its trade and other relations with Enver Hoxha's Albania. The 2 countries had been begun to be closely allied in the early 1960s, as was first reported in the West by the West German journalist Harry Hamm in his book Albania first published in English in 1962.

The Concert by Ismail Kadaré is a long novel set both in his native land Albania and also in the People's Republic of China during the final months of the friendship between the 2 distantly separated nations. Not only were they distantly separated geographically, but also culturally as his novel illustrates very clearly.

The reader is plunged into the world and family life of the upper echelons of Albanian bureaucracy. Their attempts to lead 'normal', almost bourgeois lives, are constantly overshadowed by the secretive machinations of Enver Hoxha's repressive regime. Plots are hatched (by whom we can never be sure), people are arrested and then released, consciences are searched (both by their owners and also by the state), people are sent from Tirana to the provinces and also to China, & self-interests compete with state interests. Kadaré's novel reveals both how normal and at the same time how abnormal life was in Albania. Friends visit each other, share meals and drink coffee together, but it only takes a telephone call or a rumour to cause turbulence in cosiness of the social setting.

I will not attempt to summarise the complex plot consisting of a number of sub-plots that gradually mesh together. However, as the story unfolds, so does the knot that had tied together the Chinese and Albanians. The effects that this unravelling has both on the Albanians and their soon-to-be former Chinese allies is beautifully conveyed in this book.

My only criticism of this long story, is that I found that the author's writing was less tight, less economical, and less concise, than in many of the other of his books that I have read. Apart from this, the book is a fascinating account of a peculiar episode in Balkan history written in Tirana (between 1977 & 1988, but first published in France) by someone who experienced it first hand.

Reviewed by the author of ALBANIA ON MY MIND and other books about the Balkans
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