Review of The Concert by Ismail Kadaré (publ. 1979 in Paris)
In 1978, China broke off its trade and other relations with Enver Hoxha's Albania. The 2 countries had been begun to be closely allied in the early 1960s, as was first reported in the West by the West German journalist Harry Hamm in his book Albania first published in English in 1962.
The Concert by Ismail Kadaré is a long novel set both in his native land Albania and also in the People's Republic of China during the final months of the friendship between the 2 distantly separated nations. Not only were they distantly separated geographically, but also culturally as his novel illustrates very clearly.
The reader is plunged into the world and family life of the upper echelons of Albanian bureaucracy. Their attempts to lead 'normal', almost bourgeois lives, are constantly overshadowed by the secretive machinations of Enver Hoxha's repressive regime. Plots are hatched (by whom we can never be sure), people are arrested and t...