Chronicle in Stoneby Ismail Kadare
Masterful in its simplicity, Chronicle in Stone is a touching coming-of-age story and a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit. Surrounded by the magic of beautiful women and literature, a boy must endure the deprivations of war as he suffers the hardships of growing up. His sleepy country has just thrown off centuries of tyranny, but new waves of/b>
Masterful in its simplicity, Chronicle in Stone is a touching coming-of-age story and a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit. Surrounded by the magic of beautiful women and literature, a boy must endure the deprivations of war as he suffers the hardships of growing up. His sleepy country has just thrown off centuries of tyranny, but new waves of domination inundate his city. Through the boy’s eyes, we see the terrors of World War II as he witnesses fascist invasions, allied bombings, partisan infighting, and the many faces of human cruelty—as well as the simple pleasures of life.
Evacuating to the countryside, he expects to find an ideal world full of extraordinary things, but discovers instead an archaic backwater where a severed arm becomes a talisman and deflowered girls mysteriously vanish. Woven between the chapters of the boy’s story are tantalizing fragments of the city’s history. As the devastation mounts, the fragments lose coherence, and we perceive firsthand how the violence of war destroys more than just buildings and bridges.
"They're like people, stones are," muses the young narrator of this 1971 novel, first published in the United States in 1987 and appearing now in a new edition based on the definitive text. "They're young or old, hard or soft, polished or rough...and now, just like people, they're spattered with blood by the war." Kadare, dark-horse winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize in 2005, based this narrative on his own childhood experiences in the mountainside city of Gjirokastër, Albania, occupied alternately by Italy, Greece, and Germany during World War II. The magical setting of a city of stone built around an ancient citadel is matched with dreamlike description and atmosphere; by thrusting these elements into a horrific modern conflict, Kadare creates fabulous tension. The book's other main asset is the unique and endearing voice of the impressionistic narrator, who finds himself caught between the grownups' hatred of the occupying forces and his instinctive love of the machinery of war; a scene in which his favorite plane bombs the city is heartbreaking. Surprisingly accessible for an author often referred to as difficult and Kafkaesque, this is a memorable and moving work. Recommended for all libraries.
“A triumph . . . A beguiling conjunction of realism and fantasy.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“No mere curiosity but a thoroughly enchanting novel–sophisticated and accomplished in its poetic prose and narrative deftness, yet drawing resonance from its roots in one of Europe’s most primitive societies.”
—John Updike, The New Yorker
- Arcade Publishing
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- 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Meet the Author
Ismail Kadare, Albania’s best known poet and novelist, won the inaugural Man Booker International Prize in 2005. His most recent novel, The Successor, was named a New York Times Notable Book, and was a Financial Times Best Fiction pick. He lives in Paris and Albania.
Arshi Pipa was an Albanian writer, poet, and literary critic who lived through the tumultuous Albanian revolution. He passed away in 1997.
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Picked up this book on a friend's recommendation. The beginning moved so strangely and slowly that I wasn't sure I would like it. Glad I stuck with it though, because by page 70 I was hooked. There's an element of magical realism to this book that is very reminiscent of Latin American literature. It's the story of an Albanian town during WWII enduring occupation by the Greeks, Italians, and Nazis all told through the eyes of a child. I liked the point of view because the point of view was imaginative and a bit naive. That added a lot to the mystery of the book in trying to determine what really is going on.
This story was so engaging and unique. It was hard to put it down.