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The Accident

3.13 of 5 stars 3.13  ·  rating details  ·  473 ratings  ·  71 reviews
The new book from the winner of the inaugural International Man Booker Prize is a modern-day love story of powerful obsession set against the background of dark political intrigue.
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 canno
Published May 1st 2011 by Canongate Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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I expected, perhaps unreasonably, to understand the Balkans a little better after reading this book by Albanian author, Ismail Kadaré but instead I was desperately in need of a tutorial not only on Balkan history and politics but also on understanding Kadarés very opaque writng. Yes, my copy was in English and I'm sure it was well translated but it was still very difficult to follow his oblique approach to the events he was writing about. There seemed to be layers and layers of meaning beneath t ...more
I found this book confusing and, at times, difficult to follow. But, maybe the author intended this.

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 Ka
Nick Wellings
Straightforward prose to describe (amongst other things) obsession, obsession for other, for posession of other, obsession for a puzzle to be solved, knowledge, secrets etc. Subtle symbolic approaches, and as one blurb review says, elements of fabulism, and pushes at the boundaries a little (and thus to great effect) of the compact between author and reader.

Kundera-like in its man v. woman analyses of relationships. Contained the best two sentences I have read all year so far, exquisite metaphor
I really enjoy Kadare's books even though they mystify me. I like the challenge of reading something that's not straightforward, especially since the stories are set in a part of the world I don't know much about.

To see my review please visit but be aware that there are lots of spoilers, it's not possible to unpack this book without them.
Ismail Kadare's The Accident is a brief novel that explores, sometimes obliquely, the ways stories are told, how relationships develop and shift over time, and the life of Albanians following the collapse of Communism. The story centers on the accident of the title, which is detailed in the first of the novel's three sections. A man and a woman leave a hotel and get into a taxi for the airport. Something happens – something distracts the driver – and he goes off the road. The man and woman are s ...more
To Kadare's credit, I was transported to another place while reading this novel. His prose is very descriptive, but almost in an avant-garde way. Impressive if excessive use of metaphors, infusion of important themes, especially the man versus woman/power of the sexes. Secrecy, subtlety, razzle-dazzle blurring between fact & fiction.

However, I might have been preoccupied with trying to determine exactly what was really occurring at any given moment more than I would have liked. The timeline
Dana Jennings
I wanted to love this book. It is, after all, the winner of the Man Booker International Prize. Kadare, an Albanian, has written many books and clearly is a master of the craft. This is a novel to be discussed with others. It is so dark and dreamlike I am not certain what happened. Though I don't offer plot lines in my reviews, I want to share a partial review from Tom Nolan of The Wall Street Journal. He explains it much more clearly than I ever could.

"Absorbing . . .In his layering of truth-qu
This book held my breath because of, and not despite of, its more traditional subject matter. Even if you read it merely as a 'love story', glossing over the allegory, it still is as enthralling an excavation as any other Kadare novel. Some nuances, which to me anyway comprise the book - the corruption of NGOs, Tirana's dreary February, the muted Balkans sexual warfare- are difficult to convey in a translation though.
Well, this started out so promising - a strange traffic accident occurs that kills two people in a taxi when the driver sees that in the rear view mirror, they "try to kiss". Whaaa??? Then the story backtracks over the years of the two victims long love affair. And at the end? Well, I don't think I understood the end at all. Was it all real, imaginary, or supernatural? I just don't know.
Mihai Savu
The book has a boring beginning, a car accident near Vienna where a couple died while the taxi driver remained alive. The local police and then the Serbian and Albanian police investigated the case that proved to be nothing more than that.

After a while, the case is reopened by a private researcher who gathers all evidences (tickets, hotel reservations, private notes, diaries, phone calls) and starts recreating the last 40 weeks of life of the dead couple.

First half of the book goes like this and
This novel has a good setting which I have been studying - the Balkan peninsula and the surrounding countries like France and Denmark. I don't think I've read enough mystery to judge whether it were a particularly good one (it must be though since the author won an international prize!) - pretty much only having read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as a smaller person.

Slight anti-Americanism penetrates the narrative, supporting my proposal Cold War sentiment isn't a thing of the past, even now in
Somehow he reminds me a little of Murakami set in Albania in the 1980's.
Like Herta Muller's images of Eastern Europe...the cement grey iron curtain.
This is the first book I've read by Ismail Kadare, and I found his prose elegant. But I think there is a problem with the way this book is framed. In Part 1, we are exposed to a story about an accident, which is supposedly mysterious and interesting, but by the time I finished this section, I wasn't particularly convinced that there was anything worth contemplating regarding this rather banal event. In order to let me recover from this conviction, Part 2 had to be really compelling and forceful, ...more
Bora 1234
This book was different from the others but yet incredibly intriguing and beautiful.
Kadare is an Albanian but writes in French and this novel of 263 pages always brings the changes in contemporary Albania to bear on my reading. It is one of the most intriguing novels I have ever read, combining crime, mystery and political memoir genres. What caused the Austrian taxi driver on the motorway to the airport in Vienna to swerve off the road into a gulley causing his two Albanian passengers to be cast out of the rear door 'trying to kiss' as they fell to their death? Was it the atte ...more
Clean and tidy, beautifully written, the story told in a cicular motion picking up details as it goes round, in this way similar to 'The Ghost Rider'. Also similar in that a mystery is set up at the start with almost paranormal overtones, a mystery that is investigated to no end, no conclusion, and both novels are somewhat irritaing because of it. But so compelling, eyes sliding from one word to the next with terrifc ease.
Marion Hall
This is a very strange book. Part one is written in an easy-to-read style with a certain black comedy (e. g. The European classification of road accidents). I hoped the book would have continued in this style.
However, part two is very confusing - it is the work of an 'investigator' who decides to look further into the lives of two passengers killed in The Accident of the title. This (largest) section looks at their relationship over a 12 year period, focussing on the last 40 weeks.
This couple
A mysterious book, not a mystery per se, but a loose narrative using the premise of an inquest to explore how individual lives interweave. Settings and time are fluid so any hope of pinpointing reality is lost the deeper one delves, resembles quantum physics in some sense. It's certainly not a gripping book but it stays with you.
Sorin Hadârcă
Aici Kadare pare să ia niște apucături de la Houellebecq - la fel de nemilos în privința cuplului chinuit de îndrăgostiți. Dar cade în mitologizare, precum îi dictează firea. De astă dată e vorba de Orfeu și Euridice, doar că dragostea e cea ce se caută a fi resuscitată, nu femeia!
I usually enjoy Kadare'ssymbolicrepresentation of a world which is far from us. Nevertheless, This probably set high expectations and made of this one, a deceiving book. Great prose, but I did not quite get trapped on the work.
Besfort's and Rovena's complicated relationship comes to an abrupt end in a highway accident. Set against the backdrop of the Balkans and Albania as they transition from communism to democracy and from tyranny to freedom, Rovena's own sexuality also finds new outlets/freedom from her lover, Besfort. As Besfort struggles with the changing political and military climates, Rovena is conflicted between liberation in her relationships and sexually. Phenomenology is at the heart of the book as a resea ...more
A taxi crashes on a street in Vienna and when the only survivor, the driver, regains consciousness all he can tell police is that the man and woman, Albanian citizens, in the back seat were "trying to kiss" when he glanced in the rear view mirror just prior to the accident. Thus begins a story as convoluted and ultimately as unresolved as any I've read. The book moves in time, place and perspective in a kafkaesque manner. We are not sure who anyone is, nor are we certain where reality ends and s ...more
i have NEVER before in my life read a book with political themes, and was never interested to. so it is no wonder this book did not please me very much. there were parts which intrigued me, especially in the beginning. i find myself REALLY curious as to what happened between these two very.. fascinating characters that led them to their death.

but this book got me confused at some parts. the middle part was most confusing, but i can get the gist.

oh the ending! chilling and thrilling, just REALLY
Obscure. Its hard to get into a book about the end of a relationship when you cannot care about either person or whether their relationship ends.
Well , the ending was confusing as hell ... Otherwise , I love Kadare's writing style .
This is the second book I've read that was translated to English. I think something definitely gets lost in the translation process.
Intriguing , breathtaking , sophisticated
Dec 07, 2011 Ajk rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like mystery novels but not mystery novel endings
Shelves: fiction
Reminds me a lot of White Castle by Orhan Pamuk, one of my favorite books. It starts with a basic enough premise; there's 2 deaths in a traffic accident. From there it gets into post-Hoxha Albania, the lives of immigrants abroad, literary theory, and the like. I love a book that poses a question and then refuses to answer it.

Sure, the characters are a bit thin, but I think that's a bit intentional. It's confusing at the end, but that's definitely intentional. It is a good book.
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Ismail Kadare (also spelled Kadaré) is an Albanian novelist and poet. He has been a leading literary figure in Albania since the 1960s. He focused on short stories until the publication of his first novel, The General of the Dead Army. In 1996 he became a lifetime member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of France. In 1992, he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca; in 2005, he wo ...more
More about Ismail Kadare...
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“Ne raste te tilla, ajo behej mjaft e bukur. Syte, qe gjer atehere kishin ndjekur tymin e cigares, i dritesoheshin mallengjyeshem. Mollezat, gjithashtu. I binte ne ato caste nje hir qe te trembte,te rrezonte.
Te rrezonte? C'do te thoshte kjo?
Nuk di ta shpjegoj. Desha te them, nje bukuri qe te kepuste ne mes, sic i thone fjales. Ai, gjithashtu dukej sikur permendej. Porosiste nje whiskey tjeter. Pastaj vazhdonin te flisnin prape ne gjuhen e tyre, gjer pas mesnates, atehere kur ngriheshin per t'u ngjitur me lart, ne kat.”
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