22 December 2007

Ismail Kadare, Three Elegies for Kosovo, 1998

Kadare’s brief stories revisit the 14th Century in search of the history that helps to explain the time we know today, and he lyrically illustrates how one misguided act all those centuries ago has somehow entrenched this antagonistic region and defined Balkan hostilities ever since, right up to the era of Milošević. In spite of its rather brisk telling a strong sense of despair pervades this short and illuminating book, and it ends with a gesture of resignation, a shake of the head and a throwing up of the hands – one could hardly expect otherwise. Plus ça change.   PY

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