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The Fall of the Stone City

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It is 1943, and the Second World War is ravaging Europe. Mussolini decides to pull out of his alliance with the Nazis, and withdraws the Italian troops occupying Albania. Soon after, Nazi forces invade Albania from occupied Greece. The first settlement in their path is the ancient stone city of Gjirokastër, an Albanian stronghold since the fourteenth century. The townsfolk have no choice but to surrender to the Nazis, but are confused when they see that one of the town’s residents, a certain Dr. Gurameto, seems to be showing the invading Nazi Colonel great hospitality. That evening, strains of Schubert from the doctor’s gramophone waft out into the cobbled streets of the city, and the sounds of a dinner party are heard. The sudden disappearance of the Nazis the next morning leaves the town wondering if they might have dreamt the events of the previous night. But as Albania moves into a period of occupation by the Nazis, and then is taken over by the communists, Dr. Gurameto is forced to answer for what happened on the evening of the Nazi’s invasion, and finally explain the events of that long, strange night.

Dealing with themes of resistance in a dictatorship, and steeped in Albanian folklore and legend, The Fall of the Stone City shows Kadare at the height of his powers.

168 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2008

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About the author

Ismail Kadare

236 books1,361 followers
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 won the inaugural Man Booker International Prize, in 2009 the Prince of Asturias Award of Arts, and in 2015 the Jerusalem Prize. He has divided his time between Albania and France since 1990. Kadare has been mentioned as a possible recipient for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times. His works have been published in about 30 languages.

Ismail Kadare was born in 1936 in Gjirokastër, in the south of Albania. His education included studies at the University of Tirana and then the Gorky Institute for World Literature in Moscow, a training school for writers and critics.

In 1960 Kadare returned to Albania after the country broke ties with the Soviet Union, and he became a journalist and published his first poems.

His first novel, The General of the Dead Army, sprang from a short story, and its success established his name in Albania and enabled Kadare to become a full-time writer.

Kadare's novels draw on Balkan history and legends. They are obliquely ironic as a result of trying to withstand political scrutiny. Among his best known books are Chronicle in Stone (1977), Broken April (1978), and The Concert (1988), considered the best novel of the year 1991 by the French literary magazine Lire.

In 1990, Kadare claimed political asylum in France, issuing statements in favour of democratisation. During the ordeal, he stated that "dictatorship and authentic literature are incompatible. The writer is the natural enemy of dictatorship."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 167 reviews
Profile Image for Hugh.
1,251 reviews49 followers
May 14, 2018
This is my fourth Kadare novel. He is a writer I find easier to admire than to love, and I have to admit that I only read it because is has been chosen for a group discussion in the 21st Century Literature group that starts later this week.

This fable loosely based on real historical events is set in the Southern Albanian city of Gjirokastër between 1943 and 1953. The Germans invaded Albania in 1943 and Kadare imagines his hero Dr Gurameto inviting a German general who appears to be his old college friend to dinner. During this dinner the Germans are persuaded to release the hostages they have taken in retaliation for being fired on as they approached the town.

In the last third of the book, Gurameto is arrested and tortured, facing a Kafkaesque investigation by the Communist authorities of his part in an alleged grand Jewish conspiracy to kill Stalin, of which his dealings with the Germans are the only evidence.

Kadare's vision is a bleak but powerful one with some slightly magic realist elements, and this is a book that could only have been published after the fall of Albania's Communist regime.
Profile Image for Kavita.
752 reviews361 followers
September 25, 2018
The Nazi occupation was horrible, and then they were defeated, the Communists took over, and their rule was also horrible. There! I gave you the gist of the book, so you don't have to read the pointless story.

The concept of The Fall of the Stone City is interesting. There are two doctors, both named Gurameto, in the same city of Gjirokastër. One of them gives a dinner to the Nazi officer in charge of the occupying force, and gets all the hostages set free. How and why does he does this is the crux of the narrative. But this theme was not developed into an interesting story.

Though there are two doctors called Gurameto, only one even appears in the story. The other one is quite pointless except for the author to mention at times that he was the rival. But this rivalry was of no consequence. The characters were flat and boring and frankly, I didn't care whether they were going to be bombed by the Nazis or tortured by the Commies. The big drama of the German dinner petered off into nothing. Basically, this is just another book with a lot of ideas and literary devices but no good story.

After reading the excellent stories by Chinua Achebe with all the underlying themes that he wanted to explore, I have even less patience now with such pretentious surrealist crap than usual. It is possible to do both - write a good story and explore themes of oppression and tragedy, so why don't authors work on their stories?

Reading this gave me no sense of Albania as a country, or any understanding of its culture or even the kind of oppression the people of the country faced over the Nazi and Communist regimes. So in that respect, I think this was rather a failure.
Profile Image for Adam.
Author 21 books88 followers
July 28, 2013
This brief novel by the Albanian author Ismail Kadare encompasses much about the history of the land of his birth and the rest of the world that used to be ruled by communist regimes. As with many of his other novels, the author writes succinctly and clearly, expressing feelings and ideas with skilful economy of language. In 170 pages he has expressed what many other authors would only manage in a book with at least twice as many pages.

The story follows the fate of 'Big' Dr Gurameto, a senior doctor in the ancient Albanian town of Gjirokaster (the town where Kadare as well as the communist leader Enver Hoxha were born). It begins with the arrival of German invaders in 1943. They are 'welcomed' at the city's gates by hostile shooting. As a result of this, the Germans take hostages, whom they will probably kill. Gurameto invites the commander of the invading German force to a dinner, at which he persuades the German commander to release the hostages.

This dinner will prove to have unfortunate consequences for Gurameto when the Communists take over the running of Albania. Gurameto is arrested and interrogated thoroughly not only by Albanian investigators but also by those flown in specially from East Germany and the USSR. The reason for this is that one of the hostages who was released on that night in 1943 was a Jewish pharmacist who worked in the town. And, the interrogation was taking place during the last few months of Comrade Stalin's life. This was the exact time when Stalin and his henchmen were concocting the "Jewish Doctors' Plot", which would have led to a massive campaign of Anti-Semitism throughout the Soviet-dominated countries of the world had Stalin lived longer.

Once again, Kadare successfully exposes the reader to the mysteriously sinister mindset of those who worked for the Albanian Communist regime which was led ruthlessly by its dictator Enver Hoxha. This novel gripped me from the first page until the last. It never flagged whilst it unravelled the mysterious history of the author's mysterious country during an era that is poorly known by the world beyond its borders.

The book can be read as a thriller as well as an ingenious portrayal of the history of a fascinating period in the history of Albania as well as the world beyond it.
Profile Image for Teresa.
1,492 reviews
August 20, 2018
Na cidade albanesa de Gjirokastër viviam dois médicos: o doutor Gurameto Grande (que estudou na Alemanha) e o doutor Gurameto Pequeno (que estudou na Itália). A rivalidade entre ambos mantém-se até à invasão alemã (após a Itália ter desocupado a Albânia) porque o comandante nazi era amigo do doutor Grande, o qual se torna o herói da cidade abafando o Pequeno. Após a derrota alemã chegam os comunistas e o herói está metido em sarilhos.
Os cidadãos são uma das personagens principais; uma personagem colectiva que tem opinião sobre tudo e muda de ideias conforme sopra o vento.

Neste romance, Kadar�� expõe com humor o absurdo e grotesco do regime "democrático" de Estaline, cujos partidários são loucos e cruéis, ao contrário dos nazis que têm um comportamento, pode-se dizer, generoso; não mataram ninguém e até deram a independência à Albânia.


=================================

"A ditadura e a literatura autêntica são incompatíveis ... O escritor é o inimigo natural da ditadura."
Ismail Kadaré

description

Ismail Kadaré nasceu em Gjirokastër, Albânia, no dia 28 de Janeiro de 1936.
Estudou História e Filosofia em Tirana e Literatura em Moscovo. Por na sua obra atacar os totalitarismos, sofreu ameaças do regime comunista albanês, pelo que teve de pedir asilo político à França em 1990.
Venceu em 2005 o Man Booker International Prize e tem sido um dos candidatos ao Prémio Nobel da Literatura.
Profile Image for Calzean.
2,581 reviews1 follower
July 16, 2017
Kadare writes interesting novels. This one is part fable, part history, part a commentary on the impact of successive domination of various empires who had commanded over Albania. It is also a commentary on men who use the opportunity to use their power provided by an idealogical regime as a means to demonstrate their manliness.
1943, Germany invades Albania. In Gjirokaster, the invasion is met by a few shots from someone. The Germans take hostages and will kill them if the shooter(s) do not come forward. The local doctor invites the commander of the Germans to dinner (apparently they are old friends) and by the next morning the hostages have been released and the Germans moved on.
1953, a combination of East Germans, Russians and Albanians interrogate the doctor as part of the Stalin-era crack down on doctors and a fear of the dinner in 1943 being part of an international Jewish plot.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,821 reviews1,322 followers
February 20, 2013
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.
1,054 reviews88 followers
November 19, 2017
doctor's dinner dooms duo

I wonder if Ismail Kadare is capable of writing a bad book. Mixing myth, allegory, history, and a kind of wry humor, he has produced an amazing genre over the years as yet unrewarded by the Nobel Prize committee, who often choose writers half as talented. If his work seems dark and somehow menacing, like a sudden view of an approaching storm, Albania's fate might have something to do with it. Emerging from centuries of Ottoman rule in 1912, this small country went through monarchy, a few years of a chaotic republic, more monarchy by a self-proclaimed king, Italian occupation, German occupation, a devastating civil war at the same time as war against the occupiers, and 47 years of Communist dictatorship, before finally being cast up unprepared on the beach of modern Europe in 1991.

Enver Hoxha, the ultimate victor in the WW II years in Albania, wrote the history of those times and you had to swallow it on pain of your life. But what really went on in that time of destruction and chaos ? Nobody inside really knows what goes on in totalitarian societies or in the time of a war involving Italians, Germans, Communists, royalists, nationalists, and even the Western allies. Everything is either confused or secret, so truth (or even a semblance of truth) disappears. Magical realist explanations of the times are as good as any---maybe they are explanations for things that have no explanation. Garcia-Marquez wrote a magnificent portrayal of dictatorship and tyranny in "The Autumn of the Patriarch"; Kadare has written a different, but equally strong book here. The Germans are about to occupy Gjirokaster (the stone city) and Albania. Two doctors in town have different takes on the event. One is closer to Germany, the other to Italy. The former gives a dinner---or does he? His old school friend from Germany turns out to be the invading commander---or does he ? Maybe he's even dead. Later, in 1953, when the Communists are in power, and Stalin is in his last days, a high powered investigation of events ten years before takes place due to the infamous "Doctors' Plot" in the USSR.. Why did the doctors act as they did ? Can we get to the bottom of this ? Can you get to the bottom of anything in history ? Does it all have to do with ghosts of the past that in Albania, as in Faulkner's Mississippi, never disappear ? Murky, full of lies, contradictions and irony, fables and propaganda, even the psychology of torturers and the tortured, this is another tour de force by one of the world's greatest living writers. Read it.


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Profile Image for Rebecka.
1,095 reviews82 followers
October 7, 2014
This book reminded me of Saramago's Blindness, and I really, really hated that book.

I didn't hate Kadare's book, it just annoyed me from page one and had me completely uninterested in everything and everyone in it. It sounds like it should be an interesting story, but I like stories with characters in them. Not these names/representations/ideas that walk around, especially when they live in personified cities (the city was arrogant, the city felt this and that, the city complained about...). Why does the city get more personality than any of the people living in it? This whole modern age fairy tale type of narrative has 0 positive effect on me.

Why do these authors who use this kind of technique get so much praise? Are they considered creative? They're obviously not, they're basically using the oldest type of moralistic/fictional narrative there is.

I had a long list of other complaints, but just like this book, I'm forgetting them by the second.
Profile Image for Rita.
578 reviews69 followers
August 26, 2019
Ismail Kadaré nasceu em Gjirokastër na Albânia. Presenciou a devastação do seu país durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial, experiência que deixou marcas tanto na sua vida como na sua obra.
Estudou História e Filologia na Universidade de Tirana e no Instituto Gorky de Literatura em Moscovo. Depois de sofrer ameaças do regime comunista albanês, exilou-se em França em Outubro de 1990, antes do regime colapsar, onde vive até hoje.
Recebeu alguns prémios literários, e foi nomeado, mais do que uma vez, para o Prémio Nobel da Literatura, onde quase sempre aparece na lista de favoritos.

Durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial a Albânia é invadida pelas tropas nazis (anteriormente tinha sido ocupada pelos fascistas italianos). Em Setembro de 1943 chegam a Gjirokastër onde moram dois médicos, Gurameto,o Grande e o Gurameto,o Pequeno. A comandar as tropas alemãs está o Coronel Fritz von Schwabe ex-colega de faculdade de Gurameto, o Grande. Devido a um antigo código de honra albanês – Bessa - Gurameto, o Grande vê-se obrigado a oferecer um jantar ao comandante.
Este jantar dá origem a uma série de boatos e conjecturas, ninguém sabe o que aconteceu durante o jantar, para uns Gurameto, o Grande era um traidor, para outros um patriota. Entretanto acaba a Segunda Guerra Mundial e entramos no regime comunista, e os heróis viram vilões e vice-versa. A paranoia persegue os Gurameto que ao longo da história vão deparar-se com conspiradores, loucos, torturadores etc. À medida que nos aproximamos do fim a história fica mais sombria, e chega mesmo a ter toques de terror.
Por vezes senti-me num filme de Lynch, onde o absurdo espreita a qualquer momento.

Foi uma leitura interessante, mas estranha. Não sei se foi devido à tradução, o que aliás me leva a uma pergunta:
Não há neste rectângulo à beira-mar plantado alguém que traduza directamente do albanês?!!,
ou ao estilo do texto do autor.
Houve algumas coisas que me confundiram e tive alguma dificuldade em encontrar referências online para alguns dos eventos descritos. Enfim, não foi com esta leitura que fiquei a saber muito mais da Albânia.

Gjirokastër, ou Cidade das Pedras, é Património Mundial da Unesco.

22/198 - Albânia
Profile Image for Blerina.
16 reviews7 followers
December 10, 2020
Dark & Witty!
tregon aq bukur sa qesharak behet ndonjehere njerezimi.
Profile Image for Lisa.
3,245 reviews409 followers
November 20, 2017
Ismail Kadare is an Albanian author who came to the world’s attention when he won the inaugural Man Booker International Prize in 2005. Since then he has also won the highly prestigious 2009 Principe de Asturias de las Letras in Spain as well and his novels have been translated around the world. I’ve read three of his books, The Accident and The Siege (and The Palace of Dreams before I started this blog) and I have four more on the TBR so you can count me as an enthusiast. I was delighted when his latest novel, The Fall of the Stone City was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

What I like about Kadare’s novels is that delicious moment when ‘the penny drops’ and the allegory is revealed. For much of his writing life Kadare lived under the repressive regime of Enver Hoxha, and as the Chinese still do today, he wrote oblique parables, allegories, fables and folklore in order to critique aspects of the regime. In this novel, his own home town of Gjirokastër is used to show how Albania itself is always at risk of losing its identity to great ‘isms’: its strategic position in the south of the country is analogous to Albania’s strategic position in Europe because the town is surrounded by hostile villages. Wikipedia tells me that Albania

is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo (Disputed) to the northeast, Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the west, and on the Ionian Sea to the southwest. It is less than 72 km (45 mi) from Italy, across the Strait of Otranto which links the Adriatic Sea to the Ionian Sea.


So when we read Kadare’s whimsical explanation for the city’s sense of itself, hedged with his trademark uncertainty, we get a clear sense of what it’s like to live in a country where neighbours can’t be trusted.


To read the rest of my review please visit http://anzlitlovers.com/2013/04/23/th...
Profile Image for Rusalka.
369 reviews111 followers
July 8, 2016
This book has, as contrast to my last, had mystical, magical elements that confused and bamboozled for a moment, but were easily explained and logical. This book is a story of two doctors in a large stone walled city in Albania, and mainly around a night that the Nazi's came knocking.

The majority of the book is about the aftermath of this night. This involved many a story, intrigue and folklore. Unfortunately as the world moves from War to Communism, these things are less tolerated and need to be stamped out. What makes you a hero before, makes you an enemy of the state later.

It was a quick trip to Albania. I'm glad I popped in, and will read more of Kadare's writing as I really enjoyed his style and voice. It highlights how hard and frustrating the move from pre-war to WWII to Communism must have been for people in Europe. And that is important for us nowdays to remember.
Profile Image for Giusy Pappalardo.
172 reviews17 followers
November 6, 2017
Strano libro questo.
Parte benissimo, con una prosa chiara e la descrizione perfetta di luogo, contesto storico e personaggi.
Man mano si perde nei rivoli di una sorta di realismo magico che mi ha disorientata, e nemmeno tanto lasciata agganciata alla storia e alla lettura. La cosa interessante di questo libro per me è stato l'aspetto storico e geografico. L'Albania che storia ha avuto? Cosa sappiamo di questo popolo?
Leggendo scopro che in Albania si rifugiarono ebrei ungheresi e polacchi per sfuggire alla deportazione nazista e che gli albanesi li nascosero e difesero in virtù di una legge non scritta, la Besa, che prevede ospitalità assoluta nei confronti di un ospite, ancor di più se profugo.
Solo questo vale il libro. È uno di quei casi in cui il contenuto decisamente supera la forma.
Per saperne di più vi lascio un link
http://www.eastjournal.net/archives/8...
Profile Image for Noah.
439 reviews44 followers
November 10, 2019
Ich denke der Inhalt des Werkes - wie immer bei Kadare etwas enigmatisch - wurde schon von anderen zur Genüge erläutert. Als typischer Kadarae leuchtet dieses Werk die Ambivalenzen der albanischen Geschichte am Beispiel desjenigen, der immer zwischen allen Stühlen sitzt ohne sich anzubiedern aus und eröffnet interessante Einblicke in fremde, dunkle Welten. Wie immer bei Kadare bleibt offen, welche teile historisch sind und welche Teile eine verklausulierte Abrechnung mit der Gegenwart oder einer anderen Vergangenheit (den Hoxha Jahren) darstellen.

Nachdem ich meinen 6. Kadare beendet habe - nicht jeder hat mir gefallen aber es zeichnet sich eine klare Struktur ab und auf seine eigene Art und Weise ist jedes der Werke bedeutsam - und auch vor einigen Jahren in Gjirokastra, der Stadt in der die meisten Kadare Bücher spielen war, kann ich nur sagen: "Wenn Peter Handke seine unnötigen und völlig freiwilligen Milosevic Sympathien verziehen werden, dann hätte man lange Kadare seine Hadxho Sympatien verzeihen müssen. Hodxa ist 1985 verstorben, seitdem tritt Kadare für Demokratie ein und wer sich unter einem brutalen Regime dem Diktator anbiedert tut dies auch um sein Leben und seine Position zu sichern, während derjenige, der aus einem freiheitlichen Land auszieht, um sich dem Volkermörder anzubiedern dies ohne Not tut. Gebt also Kadare endlich den lange verdienten Nobelpreis!"
Profile Image for Camie.
884 reviews187 followers
April 23, 2018
"Even before the first shell was fired, Gjirokaster's inhabitants had understood not only the tank's message but the whole situation. The stone city had fired on the German Army's advance guard. Now it would be punished according to the rules of war, which took no account of how cultivated, ancient, or crazy a town might be."
In this translation of Ismail Kadare's book the above mentioned city in Albania which was first invaded by Italy, then Germany, and finally comes under communist rule, becomes an actual character in this story, along with the story of the town surgeon Dr Gurameto.
Seems that at the same time Nazi troops are rounding up hostages Dr. Gurameto has invited their leader Colonel von Schwabe, supposedly an old university classmate, to dine at his house. As things progress the doctor will attempt to try and save the hostages, but the whole encounter will cause consequences as the story continues and his actions are called into question.
I'm sure I needed to have much more knowledge of the conditions in Albania after WWII to understand the satirical and political nature of this short and to me somewhat confusing novel which I read for 21st Century Literature club/ May. 2 stars
Profile Image for Vesa Ferizi.
39 reviews18 followers
June 3, 2020
3.5/5

“Miku im i shtrenjtë, i paharruar, mos je gjë i vdekur?" -Pyetja një milion dollarëshe.

Si mundet një perde e lëkundur nga ‘era’ ta shpëtojë popullin nga bombardimet, e një mysafir i vdekur t’u hapë atyre telashe? "Darka e Gabuar" është një histori fantazmash edhe pse kjo fjalë nuk përmendet asnjëherë në roman. Si këto fantazma që i percjellin në heshtje ngjarjet e përshkuara, në një mënyrë apo tjetër, njësoj më përcolli mua ky roman. E, meqë kam akoma pyetje të papërgjigjura, mendoj që do të më percjellë edhe pak më gjatë pas leximit. Isha konfuze kur fillova ta lexoj, jam edhe me kofuze tash që e përfundova. Kjo, pjesërisht, është edhe arsyeja pse më pelqeu ky libër.
Profile Image for Lou.
879 reviews852 followers
August 14, 2012
Set in Kadare's home town, this is a thrilling tale, enigmatic and compelling, of a secret meeting in wartime Europe that changes the political course of a great city.

Many will look upon their meeting as a meeting of treason. A meeting of dining and music with the celebrated Albanian doctor and a German, is not what others would like to hear.
He does have a history with the guest back to his college days when they were something else before they became what they were.
The author incorporates in this story a dark history of torture, interrogations and secret services. Those featured in this story may be called the devil in disguise, the generals and leaders of the Hitler and Stalin entity.
Along with this uncomplicated storytelling he has also embedded talk of nightmares and dreams which add a Kafka and Murakami feel to the story.
He does successfully indeed transport you to a dark passage in time.

A doctors kindness to a Jewish citizen of Albania whilst a German comes to occupy does not go unnoticed. Bigger questions are being answered and answers are to be bleed out of him.
The Albania in this story is to play host to workings of the royal and later the communist Albanian secret service, the German Gestapo and Stasi and the Soviet and indirectly the Israeli secret services.

Albania was penetrated by many, the forces of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin but the plight of one doctor will remembered, even though from fiction, as to what he had to endure can be a fine example of the atrocities many had to suffer at the hands of power hungry men.
One interrogator a man in service of Russia wants to find those that want to kill Stalin and had a hand into his decline in health. As the ailing ruler approaches death he becomes obsessed with answers from the doctor to the many outlined question in the excerpt below. The parameters of conducting yourself with sanity and some humanity in service to your country and ruler seem to become none existent for this man and as Stalin died his own mind comes into battlefields and he becomes hellbent on revenge one pities the poor doctor.

Ismail Kadare an author that many may not have heard of before but you will take note of once you have experienced his workings in the literary field as I have just done with this splendid story featuring a country virtually unknown to the masses presented in uncomplicated masterful storytelling.

"Gurameto, the mortal sinner
Met the devil one day on the street,
Who told him to host a great dinner
With champagne and good things to eat.

What was the doctor's design,
Asking the corse to dine?"


"The Russian gave extraordinary detailed instructions. In the first session they would test the prisoners sincerity, especially Big Dr Gurameto's. Everything else depended on this. They would try to obtain precise answers to certain questions. What had the doctor and his foreign guest said in their private conversations during the dinner? What did the doctor know about German intentions towards Albania?
There had been Tao of secret discussions before the invasion with a group of pro-German Albanians who would take over the country's government. What had been Dr Gurameto's role in this group, if any? Why had he felt in such a strong position, almost equal to the German colonel? Where had he found the courage to speak up for the hostages, especially Jakoel the Jew? What did the Germans think about their massacre of civilians at the village of Borova? Did they feel remorse? Or did they pretend to? Who had waved that white sheet as a sign of the city's surrender? If there was no truth in this story of the white sheet, who made it up, the Albanians or the Germans?"


Review also @ http://more2read.com/review/the-fall-of-the-stone-city-by-ismail-kadare/
Profile Image for Ema.
267 reviews605 followers
March 16, 2015
Evenimentele din "Cina blestemată" se derulează în Gjirokastra, un oraș-fortăreață aflat în partea de sud a Albaniei, foarte aproape de granița cu Grecia. În Gjirokastra - un oraș arogant care se consideră uneori mai deștept decât toată țara la un loc -, bârfa, discuțiile și supozițiile sunt la loc de cinste. Localnicii analizează minuțios evoluțiile pe scena politicii europene, raportând jocurile de putere la relațiile dintre doi medici ai orașului - care, fără a fi înrudiți, poartă același nume. Între cei doi există însă o diferență notabilă: Gurameto cel mare studiase în Germania, iar Gurameto cel mic în Italia, astfel că opinia publică îi transformă în adevărate simboluri care oglindesc relațiile dintre cele două țări.

În septembrie 1943, după capitularea Italiei, trupele germane intră în țară dinspre Grecia și prima lor oprire este chiar Gjirokastra. Drept represalii pentru atacarea lor de către partizani, nemții bombardează orașul și iau optzeci de ostateci. Atunci are loc evenimentul nefast care dă titlul romanului: spre surprinderea localnicilor, doctorul Gurameto cel mare îl invită la cină pe colonelul Fritz von Schwabe - aparent, un vechi prieten și coleg din timpul anilor de studii în Germania. În timpul cinei, medicul îi șoptește niște vorbe misterioase colonelului, care, în mod ciudat, îl conving pe acesta să elibereze ostaticii - inclusiv un evreu. Sensul acestui eveniment nu este înțeles de localnici, care nu se pot decide dacă ceea ce a făcut Gurameto este sau nu un act de trădare: aparent, nemții obținuseră ceva în schimbul eliberării ostaticilor, însă nimeni nu știe ce anume. Din conversația de la cină a rămas doar una dintre frazele medicului: Eu nu sunt Albania, cum nici tu nu ești Germania, Fritz. Noi suntem altceva.

După trei romane de Ismail Kadaré citite anul trecut, toate foarte faine, s-a întâmplat și nenorocirea: am dat peste cartea de față, care nu prea mi-a plăcut. Nu sunt foarte sigură care a fost motivul; ori temele abordate de scriitor și-au pierdut din impact (fiind preponderent aceleași - comunismul, miturile, tradițiile albaneze), ori cartea a fost într-adevăr mai slabă. Scriitura mi s-a părut prea facilă, aproape neglijentă pe alocuri, iar în ceea ce privește magia de care vorbesc unii cititori, eu una nu am simțit-o deloc.

Mi-a plăcut totuși felul în care scriitorul surprinde zbuciumul și confuzia albanezilor cu privire la statutul lor, greu încercat de numeroasele schimbări pe scena istorică: țara a fost, pe rând, sub ocupația Imperiului Otoman, a Italiei fasciste și a Germaniei naziste, pentru ca tradițiile ei să fie înăbușite apoi sub cumplita dictatură comunistă a lui Enver Hodja. Importanța cutumelor străvechi, legătura strânsă cu misterioasa lume de dincolo sau înclinația spre mituri și legende se explică ceva mai bine prin prisma acestor influențe exterioare, care au încercat să erodeze identitatea poporului albanez.


Dacă aveți chef să citiți mai mult decât atât, varianta lungă se află pe blog: http://lecturile-emei.blogspot.ro/201...
Profile Image for Sorin Hadârcă.
Author 3 books210 followers
May 22, 2014
A little masterpiece: history and fate condensed as never before. Reminds me of Marquez but stays very central European because of its humorous touch.
Profile Image for Hulyacln.
767 reviews357 followers
March 28, 2022
Yıl: 1943 Yer: Arnavutluk-Ergirikasrı (Gjirokastër)
Gümüş Kale olarak bilinen bu yerde birbiriyle kan bağı bulunmayan ancak aynı soyadını taşıyan, birbirleriyle sürekli kıyaslanan iki doktor yaşıyor.
Biri Almanya’da diğeri İtalya’da eğitim gören Gurameto’lar. Farklılıkları ise lakaplarını oluşturuyor: Büyük Gurameto ile Küçük Gurameto.
Aralarındaki rekabeti okuyacağımızı sanıyoruz ancak öyle bir zamanda öyle şeyler oluyor ki o gümüşten kaleyi andıran taş kent sallanmaya başlıyor, önce İtalyan askerlerinin postallarıyla oluyor bu sallanma, ardından Almanlar geliyor.
Bitti mi sandınız? Hayır. Sırada Ruslar var. Kente giren her yabancı, düzeni de değiştiriyor elbet.
Yandaş ve düşman saflarını da. Değişmeyen tek şey kulaktan kulağa yayılan bir merak: 16 Eylül 1943’te Büyük Gurameto’nun evinde yaşananlar.
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Geçtiğimiz ay Rüyalar Sarayı adlı eseri ile tanıdığım İsmail Kadare, Taş Kentin Düşüşü’nde de gerçek ile düş arasında bir bağ kuruyor. Kadere, ‘düşüş söz konusu olduğunda hangi yöne olduğunun bir önemi var mı?’ diye soruyor temelde. Her ne kadar tarihi olaylara da değinse bir pus var, yaşananları tüm çıplaklığı ile görmeyi engelleyen. O pus, dile hareket katıyor eserde ancak kitaba girişi biraz zorlaştırıyor, okuma yer yer sekteye uğruyor.
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Yazarın diğer eserlerini de edinecek miyim? Evet. Çünkü Kadere’nin okuru bir şekilde eseri düşünmeye iten, bahsettiği toprakları merak ettiren, geçmişi canlı tutabilen bir dili olduğu kesin!
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Ece Dillioğlu çevirisiyle~
Profile Image for Akilnathan Logeswaran.
41 reviews14 followers
March 8, 2022
When I went on a road trip through Albania Ismail Kadare was recommended to me as the most brilliant writer of Albania with high esteem in world literature.

While the book "The Fall of the Stone City" clearly narrates the fate of the Albanian people jumping from the Nazis arrival to Stalin's communist regime, it did not really manage to make it exciting for me. However it does give the beautiful city of Gjirokastër in the Southern Albania a good personality, which however the story lacks for most of its human characters. Hence I'm unsure, whether I can call this story a novel or another piece of art.

The story is built around the historical events is Gjirokastër between 1943 and 1953. The Germans invaded Albania in 1943 and Kadare imagines his hero the Big Dr Gurameto inviting a German general who appears to be his old college friend to dinner. I really liked the competition of the two Gurametos, however didn't understand, why the story did not capitalize more on it and Little Dr Gurameto is just left aside. Did he really exist?

The last part of the book is a rather painful story of torture in Stalin's Communist regime in Albania desperately trying to unravel a big conspiracy.

Overall, I liked the book, but it was too confusing and not really building a story with characters to follow, hence only 3 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Danielle.
254 reviews3 followers
October 5, 2017
Hoe moet je dit boek nu omschrijven? Het is een vrij gruwelijk sprookje, magisch-realistisch, maar ook met feiten uit de geschiedenis van Albanië en het communistische verleden van heel Oost-Europa en de 2e wereldoorlog in Albanië. Daarnaast speelt het zich af in Gjirokaster en als je daar al eens geweest bent, herken je plaatsen in het stadje die in dit boek beschreven worden. Het verhaal loopt in een soort van merkwaardige cirkel: het verhaal eindigt deels zoals het begint, maar dan met een ander persoon. Ook volksverhalen van Albanië komen terug in dit boek. Ik heb genoten van deze roman en wil zeker meer van deze schrijver lezen, te beginnen met zijn andere boeken die zich afspelen in Gjirokaster, waar ik een maand geleden nog was. Jammer dat je hier geen foto's kunt toevoegen om als illustratie van de verschillende plekken in de stad die in het boek genoemd worden.
Profile Image for Sara.
251 reviews18 followers
June 10, 2017
In a non linear narrative, in a style that reminds me of our late Saramago, Kadare shows the confusion of war times and the effects multiple regimes had in the city of Gjirokastër and its people. It is also a tale of the abuses and euphoria said regimes caused and the reaping of the consequences.

With a touch of mystery, this is a novel for those that wish to discover the not so visible repercussions of WWII. If you are not comfortable with a non linear narrative style you might want to skip this one.
Profile Image for Hugh Coverly.
229 reviews6 followers
October 6, 2016
After re-reading this novel I've come away with a totally different experience. Yes, it is a ghost story (they seem inhabit all of Kadare's novels) but it is a novel filled with terror. It begins with the Nazi occupation of Albania following Italy's defeat and early withdrawal from the war, in September 1943. The city of Gjirokastër, an ancient medieval city, is threatened with destruction when German forces are fired on as they arrive to occupy the city. The local surgeon, Big Dr Gurameto using his old friendship with the commander saves the lives of eighty hostages, including a local Jewish citizen. After the German defeat come the communists and their takeover of the country.

In the final third of the novel Kadare presents a terrifyingly horrific description of the terror that many Albanians faced under the government of Enver Hoxha, who, like Ismail Kadare, was born in Gjirokastër. Everyone was under suspicion, and no one could escape the long reach of the special police who exercised extraordinary powers to uncover what they regarded as the truth. Big Dr Gurameto is taken into custody in February 1953, several weeks before Stalin dies. There is a belief that there is a Jewish conspiracy to kill all the communist leaders worldwide by means of a secret league of doctors. The special interrogators, Albanian, German, and Russian, link Gurameto's suspected role in the conspiracy back to the dinner he held for his German college friend, at which he secured the release of the hostages facing certain death.

Kadare's masterful storytelling highlights the brutality of a doctoral government, the fragility of both the prisoners and the interrogators, and truth is little more than a tissue of beliefs, ideas, lies, fears, and, yes, even facts that can be distorted to become whatever is necessary to exert power, whether that be the power of hold on to one's life and sanity or to hold on to state power.

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Kadare is at his best when he makes connections between the present and the past, and he does this again in The Fall of the Stone City. The past is not simple the past. Far from being dead, the past haunts the present. As it turns out, there are many ghosts in this superb novel.

Once again Kadare recalls the ancient Albanian code, The Kanun. Instead of focussing on the blood law, as he has done most memorably in Broken April, here he calls up honour through hospitality. This ancient law is put to the test when Big Dr Gurameto welcomes not simply an old friend and and strangers into his home, but hosts the nation's enemy, the Nazi occupiers. This meeting recalls the past, shapes the present and has future consequences.

Canada's Alice Munro, also a past winner of the Man Booker International Prize, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. Can Kadare's Nobel be far behind?
Profile Image for Emkoshka.
1,651 reviews7 followers
February 22, 2017
My goal at the moment is to read more books by non-Western writers so I was delighted to come across Ann Morgan's blog 'A Year of Reading the World' recently and discover a whole list of reading options. I picked Ismail Kadare to try first as I visited Albania in July 2015 and was enchanted by this long impenetrable country and its otherworldliness. In a Europe that is increasingly becoming homogenised and gentrified, Albania stands out as a country that is rough and ready to reward pioneering travellers with hidden gems. I only got as far south as Berat but I'd love to visit Gjirokastër too, the setting of this book. It would be hard to get into this story if you didn't have an interest in Albanian history or hadn't visited the country; it's imbued with descriptions of history, culture, geography, society that would leave many people cold. If you want a story about families revelling in sunshine, grapes and romance, stick to your la-di-dah books about France and Italy. This book is about WWII, the rise of communism, local politics and the absurdist frontiers of a Socialist society. One of the endorsements on the back of the book is that 'Kadare is the equal of the often evoked Kafka'. This is borne out here, in a novel which moves fluidly between historical primer and dream-like sequences involving a local doctor and a German general. Despite being told in a prosaic way, it's a challenging read because despite everything that is revealed, everything remains opaque, a bit like the enigmatic country herself. Probably not the best Kadare to start with, but I'll try more of his work.
Profile Image for Marc.
737 reviews101 followers
May 26, 2018
I'm not really sure what I thought of this book, nor how much sense I really made out of it. History and memory revolve around a mysterious dinner whereby Dr. Gurameto can either be seen as the hero or the traitor of Gjirokaster, an Albanian town the Nazis occupied. Truth gets muddled as time passes by and those seeking it have agendas that distort reality. Overlapping oppressors compete as much for control of situations as they do for the narrative truth itself. It was a relatively easy and quick read that left me scratching my head a bit.
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WORDS I LOOKED UP WHILE READING THIS BOOK
The Kanun i Lekë Dukagjinit | lictor | fasces
Profile Image for LindaJ^.
2,095 reviews6 followers
October 21, 2022
This is the first book I've read that takes place in Albania, one of those Eastern European countries that has been occupied by numerous foreign powers over the centuries. This book looks at the decade from 1943 to 1953, i.e., from Nazi occupation to communist takeover to Stalin's death. And, in the last five pages, mentions an investigation in 1993 and 2007.

The main character here is the "ancient stone city of Gjirokaster." I would have to say that the city is stronger than any of its individual inhabitants and seems to survive each onslaught of occupiers. Italy came first in WWII, bringing Albania under its wing. The Italians, in the scheme of things, were rather benign occupiers. But when the Italians changed sides, the Germans showed up. They had dropped leaflets saying they intended only to pass through Albania but they were ambushed when they arrived. And, being the Germans, told the city it would be demolished. Only it wasn't. And why not? What did Big Dr. Gurameto have to do with the whole thing? The mystery is never really solved but it has significant consequences for Big Dr. Gurameto (and it seems Little Dr. Gurameto as well) once the Soviets arrive.

I enjoyed reading this and trying to figure it out. Must admit that I remain somewhat mystified. But the book was needed - it got me out of the sci fi and mystery rut I got stuck in while traveling when there was little time for serious reading.
Profile Image for Juliet Wilson.
Author 15 books42 followers
December 17, 2013
I realised Ismail Kadare was a great writer when I read his novel Broken April, which tells the story of blood feuds in the mountains of Albania. I've been waiting for him to win the Nobel Prize for Literature ever since.

The Fall of the Stone City is set in Gjirokastër, Albania, birthplace of both Kadare himself and the Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha. The story starts in September 1943 as Nazi troops prepare to bombard the city. However, something stops them and it turns out that the Nazi colonel remembers he has an old friend from University living in Gjirokastër, Big Dr Gurameto, one of two surgeons in the city (the other who is also called Dr Gurameto). A reunion dinner ensues which leads to the doctor being considered a traitor, but then the hostages are released, soi perhaps he's a hero?

The story continues through the city's changing political fortunes. It's a city that has been invaded by foreign powers many times and is used to this, the residents carry on as though nothing has happened even as leaders come and go.

This is a enigmatic and intriguing novel that illuminates a key period in Albanian history, while asking questions about the nature of truth, power and loyalty, lightened by a dark humour. Any reading of it probably benefits from some knowledge of Albanian history, customs and folklore and some knowledge of Kadare's other novels.
Profile Image for Mimozë.
66 reviews41 followers
September 1, 2018
3 for up to page 130, 4 for the turnaround after that.
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