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The Accident

3.11  ·  Rating details ·  891 ratings  ·  125 reviews
From Man Booker International Prize winner Ismail Kadare comes a dizzying psychological thriller of twisted passions, dual identities, and political subterfuge. Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the war in the Balkans, The Accident closely documents an affair between two young lovers.

On a rainy morning in Vienna, a taxi pulls onto the autobahn only to crash into the m
Hardcover, 263 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Grove Press (first published 2008)
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Average rating 3.11  · 
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 ·  891 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: balkan
Balkan Irony?

Nothing happens in the Balkans which isn’t significant to someone. Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Militant Atheists and their respective nationalities rub up against each other with considerable cultural friction. Small things become big things at the drop of an archduke or a rotating presidency. The region itself is largely the result of historical accident. So even the most random traffic accident could have dramatic implications. Or at least that is the theory of the
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 Kadaré's very opaque writng. Though my copy was in English, and seemed well translated, 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 the main ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: balkan
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
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 shi
Bob Newman
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it
You can't explain the inexplicable

I am a big fan of Ismail Kadare. I've read (and reviewed) a lot of his novels and have steadily said that he deserves a Nobel Prize. It seems to me that the failure to give him one is political in nature. But, you know, everyone has their off days and I think he wrote this novel on some of those days. It has a lot of the same characteristics as such books as "Doruntine", "The Palace of Dreams", "General of the Dead Army", "Elegy for Kosovo" and "The Fall of the
Feb 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: c21st, albanian, fiction
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.
Mar 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: albania-research
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
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
I didn't really get this at all. Not sure if something was lost in translation, but I still have no idea what happened.
Ben Thurley
Jan 08, 2016 rated it liked it
An ambiguous and elliptical novel made up of complex and contradictory narrative threads. Ostensibly the account of an investigation into the sudden and mysterious deaths of two Albanian lovers, Rovena St. and Bresfort Y, pieced together by an anonymous state investigator, it is an exploration of obsession, sex, love, power and control.

In the context of a fragmenting, war-torn Balkans it is — even through its consistent focus on just two people and their love affair — also a deeply political no
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Bora 1234
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was different from the others but yet incredibly intriguing and beautiful.
Jan 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm not even sure what I just read. Well-written, but the characters were so damaged. Sometimes I wasn't sure if the situations portrayed were real to them or imagined. Interesting read though.
Feb 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rovena and Besfort are killed in a strange car accident and a lone researcher attempts to understand their true relationship, recreate the events leading up to their deaths and discover what really happened in the accident.

The story is complex, often confusing and vague as it pulls off the layers of Rovena and Besfort's relationship, one that is dysfunctional and toxic at best. I was annoyed by this in the beginning, but the more I read the more I realized that this was probably the intent of th
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, balkans
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.
Gustavo Vazquez
Aug 06, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a mess! One thing is a bad book by a lesser author - another, is a terrible book by a talented writer. You can sense the confusion in Kadare´s mind as you read the story. It reminded me of some lesser books by Doris Lessing, when you see the author knows he is lost in the plot but he tries to go on by any means. This book is almost one of those "so bad it´s good". If it were a little worse it could even have a cult following - but it´s just bad.
Nov 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
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.
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a tale of an accident, or perhaps a murder, or perhaps of the inevitability of soul-murder in a patriarchalized society. It is almost an excellent book and probably would have been excellent if the author wasn't so famous and would have permitted his editor to take out some of the repetitive middle; it starts strong and ends even stronger.
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I managed 75 pages of this book and abandoned it. Perhaps I am not an art connoiseur or this could just be a pretentious boring drivel including gratuitous self-references, going generally nowhere.

It is a far cry from the "Siege" which I enjoyed very much. Note that the "Siege" was written in 1970, this book in 2008. Draw your own conclusions.
Pablo Alonso mateos
Sep 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
Maybe is a great book, but too slow for me, only liked the parts about the Albanian history.
M.T. Karthik
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.

- 2017 Nobel Literature Laureate Bob Dylan

I have always been a romantic, despite the cruel human stupidity deteriorating this world.

I have seen and read and loved a lot and come to know the pain of it and of cynicism. I have come to appreciate Dorothy Parker and Bob Dylan. I have fought to resist the patina of the produced and to stare long in pursuit of a realistic understanding. Yet, I have always believed and fight still to believe in beauty, nat
Nora Rawn
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
What's going on here, exactly? It's meant, seemingly, to be a psycho-sexual study, but it fails at that, never reaching the intensity of a Junichiro Tanizaki novel or even the over-the-top Story of O. It's also meant to be a commentary on the post-dictatorship Albania and post-Yugoslavia Balkans, and the parsing of dreams and diary entries does echo the paranoia of the Albania state and the constant creation of conspiracies, mainly imagined. Unfortunately there's no there there--nothing to be in ...more
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
It's an interesting read, after a slow and repetitive start, but it focuses too much on Rovena and Besfort alone, and occasionally on Liza and the Slovak. The psychological processes happened between the *main* couple are recognizable, especially when it comes to the balance of power. What's funny is that actually Rovena and Besfort are both scared of each other, while one in such position never thinks it is maybe a reciprocal feeling. The two don't know how to manage their fears and mistrust, d ...more
Nicholas Whyte
Jun 09, 2020 rated it liked it

I have generally enjoyed Kadarë's work, but I'm afraid this left me rather unexcited and confused. The story is about an Albanian couple who dies in a freak car accident; we explore what they know about each other, and the woman's other loves; perhaps it's all a metaphor for the international flirtations of post-Communist Albania, but if so it's a bit clumsy and also not all that apt (post-Communist Albania has been pretty firm in its affections).
Mar 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
This is the second of Kadare's books (the other was A Girl in Exile) that I have found almost unreadable. In both cases, there is page after page of stilted and frequently puerile inner dialogue -- as well as actual dialogue -- in which small emotions are exaggerated and then turned endlessly, like a marshmallow on a twig. This time I gave up half way. When Kadare is good, he is very very good; and when he is not. . .well, he's not. This could be partly a translation problem (he writes in Albani ...more
Alex Goodman
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Hm. I enjoyed parts of this. Some of the writing. I also enjoyed learning a bit about Albania. But I was very frustrated by what I felt was too much disjuncture, especially because elements of this “narrative” could have been extremely compelling if they were seen to fruition (on some level).
Chris Thompson
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
The problem with The Accident is that it feels too surreal for me to invest any sort of emotional or intellectual connection with the story or characters. Ismail Kadare seems to be commenting upon a political situation related to Albania and Serbia and a host of other countries, a situation I am too unaware of for this to resonate with me. But at the same time, the book also seems to be about a rocky and destructive human relationship. But it is also about the myriads of interpretations people m ...more
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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“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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