Book Review: Ismail Kadare's 'The Accident'

The Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare, winner of the 2005 Man Booker International Prize, has been slowly building a reputation here in the U.S. Our book commentator Alan Cheuse suggests that with the publication of his latest novel, The Accident, he will add to his American readership.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

The Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare, winner of the 2005 Man Booker International Prize, has been slowly building a reputation here in the U.S. With the publication of his latest novel, "The Accident," Alan Cheuse says Kadare will be adding to his American fan base.

ALAN CHEUSE: Kadare opens the novel with a vivid description of a roadway mishap in which a taxi carrying a couple who find themselves at the end of a long love affair skids off the road and the passengers die.

He casts the rest of the book as an investigation into the incident. We hear from various interested parties, private and public, and the story of these lovers opens up into a full-blown portrait of their affair, which they carried on in a number of European capitals, against the backdrop of European politics and diplomacy.

Everywhere in the world, events flow noisily on the surface, Kadare writes, while their deep currents pull silently, but nowhere is this contrast so striking as in the Balkans.

Kadare dives deep into the pulling currents of love and death, carrying us down with him into a world which ranges, on the one hand, from dirty limericks about Bill Clintons sexual peccadilloes to profundities about the relation of stories and death.

Anyone who has ever suffered through a love affair or wondered about other people caught up in such torments will find this brief novel essential reading.

BLOCK: "The Accident" is written by Ismail Kadare and translated by John Hodgson(ph). Alan Cheuse teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

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