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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Spring Flowers, Spring Frost (2002) by Ismail Kadare


Book Review
Spring Flowers,  Spring Frost (2002)
 by Ismail Kadare

 Ismail Kadare is Albania's contribution to the world literary canon, one of a small group of Balkan-area novelists to penetrate the English language market for literary fiction.  Most of Kadare's books were originally written in Albanian, and simultaneously published in Albanian and French, and the English language push has come via translations of the French editions.

Mark Gurabardhi is the protagonist- a young artist living in post-Communist Albania. He has an up and down relationship with his artist model, she is vexed by her familial entanglement in the revival of the medieval "blood laws" AKA "the kanun" of Albania. Kadare alternates the main narrative with chapters that are more allegorical in nature, including the "real" story of a young woman forced to marry a snake. 

  It's all very European turn-of-the-21st century-literary fiction, ennui/mild depression, under employment, rootlessness and a loss of purpose, you know, European literary fiction.  The Albanian locale isn't quite as distinctive as it was in his books written prior to the collapse of Communism, now his Albania reads like Eastern Europe with blood feuds. I'm writing as a fan of Albania from way back, and I acknowledge that Kadare is extremely prolific.  I wonder if this is the book to include in the 1001 Books project alongside Broken April (1978). 

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