The Concert

Overview


China is somehow involved with the increasingly desperate situation in Albania, but no one knows the extent of its secret alliances, political levers, and economic control. Skënder Bermema is sent to China on a fact-finding mission, and is confronted with the reality of Mao’s China, a nation intent on crushing individuality, independence, and creativity.

The intriguing promise of a mysterious gala concert is where the hand-picked foreign invitees expect to be able to decipher ...

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Overview


China is somehow involved with the increasingly desperate situation in Albania, but no one knows the extent of its secret alliances, political levers, and economic control. Skënder Bermema is sent to China on a fact-finding mission, and is confronted with the reality of Mao’s China, a nation intent on crushing individuality, independence, and creativity.

The intriguing promise of a mysterious gala concert is where the hand-picked foreign invitees expect to be able to decipher in the colors, figures, and gestures of the Chinese actors a message about China’s intentions. And no matter what any of them may be expecting, the message is shocking beyond their wildest imaginations.

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Editorial Reviews

The Wall Street Journal
“One of the most compelling novelists now writing in any language.”
Robert D. Kaplan
. . .The reader gets the feeling that the author knows his territory. . . .Mr. Kadare makes us understand the secret of how a totalitarian regime survives: terror breeds isolation, and that isolation denies the inhabitants a crucial perspective, without which it's hard for them to realize just how abnormal their society really is. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in the mid-1970s, as the alliance between Albania and Communist China unravels, this subversively inventive satire traces the impact of the zigzagging Albanian party line on the personal lives of a group of friends and associates. These include a jittery Albanian diplomat in Beijing, his jealously insecure wife, an establishment novelist who confronts ``the void inside him'' and a civil servant who writes an ``autocritique'' castigating himself for his petty-bourgeois mentality. A Kafkaesque subplot concerns an army officer who's arrested, apparently for refusing to obey an order. Albanian novelist Kadare ( The Palace of Dreams ), who lives in France, sketches a devastating portrait of Mao Zedong as a megalomaniac whose goal is ``the brainwashing of the human race.'' Historical figures like Zhou Enlai and genocidal Cambodian leader Pol Pot appear intermittently in an elliptic narrative spliced with dreams, officers' coerced confessions and short-short stories. China, depicted as a dystopia where simple human relations are stultified and surveillance is a way of life, becomes a mirror image of Albania through Kadare's mordantly ironic vision. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Under communism, foreign relations between a smaller country and the huge country that serves as its "host" affect the day-to-day lives of many individuals, especially in the smaller country. An Albanian by birth now living in France, Kadare (The Palace of Dreams, LJ 9/1/93) shows how Albania's relationship with China affects the life of Silva Dibra, a government employee, wife, and mother. The endless succession of her days seem to blend together as Silva worries about her husband, Gjergi, who makes sudden and frequent trips to China, and her brother, Arian, who is in the military. She also thinks constantly about her dead sister, Ana. Through Silva, we learn the thoughts of too many other characters: her husband, daughter, brother, co-workers, endless friends, Chairman Mao, Zhou En-lai, and a stream of other Chinese bureaucrats. There are some good, funny ideas here, and a number of chapters would work effectively as short stories. Strung together, however, they create what is essentially a plotless novel that strains the reader's interest.-Olivia Opello, Onondaga Cty. PL, Syracuse, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611458725
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/8/2013
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 1,393,477
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.40 (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.

Barbara Bray has twice won the Scott Moncrief Prize for her translations, as well as the French-American Foundation Prize.
She has collaborated with Harold Pinter and Joseph Losey on a film adaptation of Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu. She passed away in 2010.

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