Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Fall of the Stone City by Ismail Kadare

This wonderfully written book is a fascinating

tale of legends, beliefs, politics and a lost way

of culture.

It is a story set in Albania when the German tanks advanced

over the border during the war years

and subsequently the communist take-over of power.

The story is written on several levels.

Firstly, it is a very personal oxes, wolves

and human story of two doctors who worked the hospital in the

town of Gjirokaster. Their names were Mr Big Gurameto and Mr Little

Gurameto. They were unrelated. Big Gurameto had studied in Germany and

Little Gurameto had trained in Italy. Both doctors were dedicated to their profession.

The esteem which they were held in by the general populace often fluctuated depending upon the rise and fall of the respective countries in the polictical environment of the time.

Secondly, it is also a story of Albanian honour and hospitality.

Thirdly, it is associated with legends and stories of the Albanian culture.

It is also a breathtaking story for its beauty and scope. Geographical locations

are described and illuminated with clarity. The foxes and wolves of the hills, the mountains of Lunxheria,

the little villages, the ladies from the great aristocratic houses and the stone city are described

beautifully and with wonder. Albania at one time was a beautiful place.

The story also fascinates.

It is as though Mr Big Gurameto has a mirror of his life

held up to him and shining within him. His destiny? Or he wishes he could change it.

From small and generous gestures of generosity and hospitality a previous occasion

comes back to haunt him in unexpected ways. This was the occasion of his generosity

towards a German colonel whom he had known from his student days in Germany.

There is so much more to this story. And what a story it is! Perhaps it was his mind playing tricks on him.

And no wonder! From small childhood beliefs and legends, the story seemed to grow.

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