The General of the Dead Army

( 2 )

Overview

The General of the Dead Army is a moving and timely meditation on war and its consequences by the winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize, available again in paperback. Twenty years after World War II, an Italian general—armed with maps, measurements, and dental records—is sent to Albania to recover the remains of his country’s fallen soldiers. A quarrelsome priest joins him, and in rain and sleet they dig up the Albanian countryside—once a battlefield, now a graveyard—checking teeth and dog tags, ...

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Overview

The General of the Dead Army is a moving and timely meditation on war and its consequences by the winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize, available again in paperback. Twenty years after World War II, an Italian general—armed with maps, measurements, and dental records—is sent to Albania to recover the remains of his country’s fallen soldiers. A quarrelsome priest joins him, and in rain and sleet they dig up the Albanian countryside—once a battlefield, now a graveyard—checking teeth and dog tags, assembling a dead army in pine-box uniforms. In addition to the brutal weather, they also battle the hostility of the Albanians working for them. This may be an errand of mercy for the general, but the chance to humiliate their one-time conquerors offers the Albanians a welcome vengeance. Fighting the hopelessness of his undertaking, the general finds his movements shadowed by a German general on the same gruesome mission for his own country. In a terrible crescendo at a wedding, the Italian general must answer for the crimes of his country and all countries that have invaded this land of eagles, seeking to destroy its people. Enthralling and poignant, The General of the Dead Army is an elegy for the young people of every country who are sent abroad to die in battle.

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Kadare's prose glimmers with the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez."
Boston Globe
"...this powerful and poignant Albanian novel in an accessible English translation is cause for a celebration...a writer of global significance."
Richard Eder
Mr. Kadare advances wryly and dryly into the darkness…[he] doesn't do messages; he brings them to lethal life.
—The New York Times
Library Journal

This early novel by controversial Albanian author Kadare was originally published in 1963; Coltman's English translation, based on the French edition, first appeared in 1971. (The only other English translation currently available is by W.H. Allen.) The book's protagonist is an Italian army officer who has come to Albania to recover the bodies of soldiers who died twenty years earlier in World War II. The General and his team carry crudely drawn maps and directions to burial sites supplied by aging war veterans. At first, the General fantasizes about returning home in triumph with his army of dead soldiers, but his optimism quickly fades. Rain and cold weather make recovery difficult, and the sullen Albanians continue to treat the Italians as invaders. It doesn't help that German recovery teams are there at the same time. The clerical routines of the mission become increasingly oppressive. Before long, the General is haunted by terrifying dreams and hallucinations. He starts to see living people as skeletal remains and, fatally, begins to feel sympathy for the Albanians. This gloomy but powerful antiwar novel provides an excellent introduction to Albania's best-known author.
—Edward B. St. John

Alan Brownjohn
A profoundly moving novel...rich in poignant details, which enable it, despite the remoteness of the region and the facelessness of the characters, to work on a wholly realistic as well as an allegorical level. This is Kadare's most remarkable achievement.
Times Literary Supplement
The New York Times
A major international novelist.
The Wall Street Journal
One of the most compelling novelists now writing in any language.
Philadelphia Inquirer
One of contemporary fiction's greatest prose lyricists.
Nation
Writing like this is hard to stop quoting, it is musical not only in rhythms, but in its most elemental perceptions.
Booklist
A great writer.
Los Angeles Times
Kadare's prose glimmers with the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
The Boston Globe
The appearance of this powerful and poignant Albanian novel in an accessible English translation is cause for a celebration. Kadare's imaginative language marks a writer of global significance.
Professor John Carey
Ismail Kadare is a writer who maps a whole culture—its history, its passion, its folklore, its politics, its disasters. He is a universal writer in a tradition of storytelling that goes back to Homer.
The New York Times - Leonie Caldecott
Ismail Kadare's fiction has been compared with that of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Certainly he iduces that same ironic double-take in his readers, by means of the child's magical view of life that is larger than most adults realize.
Village Voice Literary Supplement - Ken Kalfus
Albania's most valuable export: the novels of Ismail Kadare.
Mark Thwaite
The General of the Dead Army, Ismail Kadare's meditation on the consequences of war, is a hugely moving account of duty and loss. Kadare's plaintive novel is a consistently heartfelt lament to all those who have died and been affected by war, but it is also a beautiful work displaying the skills that make him on of the great modern European writers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611454185
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/1/2012
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 636,690
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ismail Kadare is the winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize, and is acclaimed worldwide as one of the most important writers of our time. Translations of his novels have been published in more than forty countries. He divides his time between Paris, France, and Tirana, Albania.

Derek Coltman has translated such French works as Marie-Claire Blais’s A Season in the Life of Emmanuel, Jean Varenne’s Yoga and the Hindu Tradition, and Violette Leduc’s La Bâtarde. He lives in England.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    A wonderful which exposes the aftermath and conclusions war brin

    A wonderful which exposes the aftermath and conclusions war bring to all nations involved. Kadare writes to bring the reader in to beg for more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2001

    A must read book

    The most famous Albanian writer and one of the most famous alive writers in the world has said it all. It sends your mind in another world. Superb.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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