It's the 1970s and cracks are starting to appear in the alliance between China and its Communist cohort Albania. When an Albanian steps on the foot of a Chinese diplomat the tension cranks up – couriers between Tirana and Beijing carry annotated x-rays of the foot back and forth. The Chinese intend to punish their interfering little ally discreetly. But is the Sino-Albanian axis about to come adrift? This is Kadare’s surreal black comedy about the inner sanctums of political power and the mysterious causal chains that transform ordinary lives.
His finest book is The Concert, an epic study of the Albanians when living under the thumb of their sole world ally, the Chinese. It is half realism, half Borgesian, and the form and content jointly stun
The Concert is a splendidly deep and serious novel that entirely transcends, as it were, its unremarkable outer garment… Kadare's achievement is to dramatise truthfully throughout. This is a book to read and re-read
It is Shakespearian in its sweep of history with its insertions of poetic and theatrical farce and its description of the contortions Albanians had to perform to survive Marxist doctrine
The Concert is among the richest, most complex and most challenging works of his fictional cycle… Kadare's achievement is to have found once again the set of tricks that create the illusion of real life on the printed page
He has been compared to Gogol, Kafka and Orwell. But Kadare’s is an original voice, universal yet deeply rooted in his own soil