Ismail Kadare: Kur sunduesit grinden (A Dictator Calls)

The latest addition to my website is Ismail Kadare‘s Kur sunduesit grinden (A Dictator Calls). Kadare had spent some time studying in Moscow where he heard the story about the call Stalin made to Boris Pasternak in 1934 about fellow poet Osip Mandelstam. Mandelstam had been arrested (for writing poems critical of Stalin)and Stalin asked for Pasternak’s view. Pasternak claimed he barely knew Mandelstam and Stalin is critical of him for not defending his colleague. Kadare had been in Moscow when, twenty years later there is criticism of Pasternak over his acceptance of the Nobel Prize but Albania and the Soviet Union had fallen out and he could not return. We see the issues he faces in Albania. The second part of the book is about the Stalin-Pasternak phone call and it turned out that there are thirteen versions of what happened and Kadare examines each one, its source, implications and, likelihood. Some are similar, some different, albeit not much but each has its own flavour and gives us an idea of how Stalin ruled and his effect on the people of his country.

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