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The Fall of the Stone City

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  1,142 ratings  ·  139 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 168 pages
Published August 30th 2012 by Canongate Books (first published 2008)
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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 colle
May 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
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 cr
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 do
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: balkan
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 ...more
Oct 05, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 h ...more
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
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
"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, becom
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 th
Sorin Hadârcă
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kadare, balkans
A little masterpiece: history and fate condensed as never before. Reminds me of Marquez but stays very central European because of its humorous touch.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 thi
Hugh Coverly
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 ...more
Jun 01, 2016 rated it liked it
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 t ...more
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 qui ...more
Juliet Wilson
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
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
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, balkans
I liked this; brutal, satirical, pointed, and very political.

“I don’t understand this,” said a patient on crutches. “Say it straight. What’s this new time you’re talking about?”

“It’s called a new order. It’s what happens when the system changes. The first day is usually called zero hour. Then the numbering starts, one, two, three and so on. When they gave us the anaesthetic it was, let’s say, a certain time on such-and-such a day. We went under, and out of time. But time paid no attention. Time
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 for up to page 130, 4 for the turnaround after that.
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 individu
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Took me 3 days to read it ( could have read it faster If I would not be at work) , there is no need to review it and explain all what happened this book is just awesome with a thrilling story and a perfect/confusing end.
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: paper, 2018
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 narrat
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translated, literary
The people of Gjirokastër spend their days speculating on the rivalry between two doctors; Big Dr Gurameto with his German connections and Little Dr Gurameto with his Italian. When, in 1943, the Nazis roll up to the city gates, a group of citizens fire upon them. Whilst the city folk fear the implications of this rebellion, Big Dr Gurameto recognises an old college friend in the Colonel and invites him and his men to dinner. Soon rumours are flying.

The Albanian city of Gjirokastër is a character
Jan 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adult readers

The Fall of the Stone City by Ismail Kadare, translated by John Hodgson

In The Fall of the Stone City, Kadare blends Albanian history and fiction. It is 1943 and Mussolini has just withdrawn from Albania. Now German Commander Colonel Fritz von Schwabe enters its capitol city, Gjirokaster, from Greece. He has blanketed the town with fliers proclaiming his arrival as that of a friend of Albania but has been fired upon. No one claims credit for this, neither the Albanians nor the communists.

Von Sch
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Writing over at The Modern Novel – a blog, the author (who only appears to be identified by the initials ‘TMN’) talks at length about Kadare’s writing. He has read over twenty of Kadare’s novels including those only available in French at the moment (Kadare writes in Albanian and then the works are translated into French and then from the French into English). In the article TMN has this to say about Kadare’s book:

[D]espite Canongate’s The much anticipated new novel, I doubt if The Fall of the S
Caroline Bock
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read any books by Albanian writers before THE FALL OF THE STONE CITY, but I will be reading more of Ismail Kadare. This novel was a wild ride through the Nazi occupation of Albania, one fateful dinner between a doctor and his supposed long-ago university friend, and the brutal communist oppression of Albania in the 1950s. It's a slim book, 168 pages, but packed with the evocative imagery of one doctor caught in a Kafka-like web of Nazis, and then, Stalin's secret service police. One wa ...more
Mar 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Almost novella-like, this story is classic Kadare: surreal and irrational characters and actions are thrown together to puzzle the mind about what life really could have been like in the Balkans during WWII and in the communist era that followed it. At the same time, it feels vague and unfocused, with a lot of threads left hanging. A key scene at the beginning is being referred to over and over throughout the book, yet its significance is never fully explained. With some unnecessary tangents and ...more
Matt Kuhns
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is good. Kadare has never let me down so far. I can't say as this one left a great impression on me, as did The Pyramid. But it was certainly compelling enough while reading it.

I think Kadare generally walks a remarkably fine line. So elliptical and mysterious that one might feel disappointed, after buying into the questions raised in his stories, he seems always to provide just precisely enough answers and no more. Rather extraordinary now that I think about it.
Although I had heard of it, I had to look Albania up on a map as I started reading this short novel. The story of a doctor and a fateful dinner, the tale is by turns fantastical, highly political and a fable. I enjoyed the opportunity to get another perspective on the world in which we live.
Olimpia Cruceru (Rusu)
Definitely not my type. I wouldn't recommend this book. It's boring as hell, the characters are too pale, the action is unknown. ...more
Bob Newman
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 throug
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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

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