James Purdon

Albanian Nights

The Fall of the Stone City

By

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The southern Albanian city of Gjirokastër has the distinction of being the birthplace of Ismail Kadare, who, having published forty-odd novels in Albanian and French, came to much wider notice in Britain when he was announced as the first winner of the Man Booker International Prize in 2005. But Gjirokastër also has the rather more dubious distinction of being the birthplace of Enver Hoxha, the Stalinist ruler of Albania who began his political life as an anti-Fascist partisan fighting against a puppet government in hock to Mussolini and ended up as the paranoid dictator of an economically stagnant and isolated outpost of communism.

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