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The Fall of the Stone City (2009)

por Ismail Kadare

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1308163,058 (3.35)9
1943. German soldiers advance on Gjirokastr, Albania, the first step in a carefully planned invasion. But the troops are taken aback by an act of rebellion that leaves the citizens fearful of a bloody counter-attack. Soon rumours circulate that the Nazi Colonel was a school acquaintance of a local dignitary - then he and his army disappear.… (mais)
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    The Moon Is Down por John Steinbeck (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Involving the reactions of communities under German occupation
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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.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Albania, 1943.
I found this an interesting, yet strange read. I'm not sure if this was down to the translation, or the style of the original text. It is set in 1943, at the time when Mussolini and the Nazis parted ways and Albania found itself abandoned by the Italians, leaving the country wide open for Nazi invasion.

The Stone City of the title is Gjirokastër, an ancient Albanian stronghold and the first city the Nazis reach when they enter Albania. The city is beautifully described in the narrative, which prompted me to Google images of the city.

This is very much a fact driven book and the only characters we get to discover much about are Big and Little Drs. Gurameto, both surgeons in the local hospital. The competition that exists between them seems to be generated by gossip in the local community rather than being actual rivalry.
Then, to the dismay of the townspeople, Big Gurameto appears to welcome the Nazi commander and hosts a lavish banquet in his honour. While this turns out to be beneficial to the town in the short term, it causes huge problems for Big Gurameto when the communists arrive.

The latter parts of the book confused me, with the women being called 'comrade' on the streets and consequently fainting and even dying. I found on-line reference to women who were hanged for partisan activities, but nothing to explain the events narrated. There is also reference to a Jewish conspiracy called 'the Joint', but I also failed to discover any reference to this, leaving me feeling that the second half of the book was more fable than fact.

I guess I learned something of Albania's history but I seem to be left with as many questions as answers. ( )
  DubaiReader | Jul 28, 2018 |
An allegoric novel, like many of Kadare's work. A main role for his hometown Gjirokastër in Albania, that is so prominent that it looks like the protagonist. Of course Kadare is again joking with the communist regime that dominated for so long his country and this time it's so hilarious that you can only wonder why so many people saw for such a long time a realistic alternative in these oppressive, even stupid, regimes.
Not all ends well, and some mysterious people pass by, die, get mad or simply survive. And this is, maybe, how life was in Albania under that regime: you were lucky, or not, or you didn't want to know anymore ( )
  Lunarreader | Apr 8, 2016 |
When Albania is occupied by the Germans during WWII doctor Guremento holds a dinner for the head of the German army. This dinner haunts him and leads to trouble when communists take over the country. ( )
  RachelNF | Jan 15, 2016 |
Kadare's ironic take on human folly and hypocrisy and the uncertainties of history combined with strong story telling makes a good read. In a strange way, makes something of the horrors of totalitarianism into dark comedy; in that, reminiscent of the Italian film 'Life is beautiful' ( )
  vguy | Oct 12, 2014 |
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1943. German soldiers advance on Gjirokastr, Albania, the first step in a carefully planned invasion. But the troops are taken aback by an act of rebellion that leaves the citizens fearful of a bloody counter-attack. Soon rumours circulate that the Nazi Colonel was a school acquaintance of a local dignitary - then he and his army disappear.

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