Having trouble reading in English? Then translate it!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

TWO FAITHS







Char Minar

The Charminar, a four-arched gateway with four towering minarets, stands in the heart of the old city of Hyderabad in India. It was surrounded by an excessively crowded bazaar the first time that we visited it in August. It was during the last week of Ramadan and everyone was frantically purchasing things in anticipation of the celebration of the end of the season of fasting, Eid. The pressure and crush of the crowds in the baking afternoon sun made us decide not to linger, but to try to return at a quieter time should that exist. In addition, we were hungry, and all the restaurants and cafés were closed because of the fast. However, we did manage to find a milk-bar which was open, and willing to serve us infidels with lassi and rabdhi (sweetened clotted milk).


Just before we managed to get an autorickshaw to take us out of the crowded area, I spotted a street lined by colourfully decorated dental surgeries. I would have liked to have explored these had the crowds been less densely packed. We left the area, pleased that although we did not enter the Charminar we had at least managed to see the magnificent Mecca Masjid near to it. This oasis of peacefulness served both as a place of worship and also as somewhere that people could rest or sleep during the heat of the day.

Resting during Ramazan

During the following few days, we explored the rest of Hyderabad, visiting the old British Residency, the Golconda Fortress, and the beautiful Qutub Shahi Tombs nearby.


Viewed from a corner
One of the Qutub Shahi Tombs


On the Friday, which was the last Friday before Eid, we returned to the old city in order to see the Charminar once more. Our driver dropped us as close as he could, which was not so close because all of the roads leading towards the Charminar and its neighbour the Mecca Masjid had been closed to vehicular traffic. The police presence was formidable. Armed policemen and airforce-men in blue camouflage combat gear almost outnumbered civilians. We felt as if we were stepping into a war zone. When we asked an officer whether trouble was expected, he answered that it was not and that his men's presence was merely routine. Uncertain about his response, we asked one or two other men in uniform, and their replies were similar. 

With the absence of traffic and also of most of the bazaar stalls, movement within the cordoned-off zone was easy. As we neared the mosque and the Charminar, we noticed two things. Firstly, much of the street was covered with green cloths, looking rather like a huge lawn. 

Keep off the carpets

These were patrolled by men in skull-caps, whose job it was to prevent anyone stepping on these enormous prayer mats with covered feet. The second thing that we noticed was that a temporary structure had been attached to one corner of the Charminar. 

Makeshift temple

This  construction, which had not been present earlier in the week, was a temporary Hindu temple. 

Two faiths

A long queue of worshippers was lining up to worship there. It wound along the gaps between the prayer mats, and there was a heavy presence of Muslim men standing close by to make sure that their prayer mats were not trodden on by the Hindu worshippers, many of whom were wearing sandals.

As the queue of Hindu worshippers moved slowly towards the makeshift temple, we entred the brightly decorated Charminar Dental Hospital.  

Notice both Hindu & Moslem names on the sign


Its friendly owner, a dentist who had qualified in Hyderabad, reconfirmed what we had been told by the police; trouble was not expected. This was difficult to believe given the almost continuous line of armed men surrounding the place. He showed us his clinic and got his assistant to pose on the chair for me.


We asked our Moslem host whether he thought that the placing of a temporary Hindu temple on an essentially Islamic monument during one of the most important Islamic festivals was provocative. He told us that he did not think so and they have every right to celebrate their own religion. 









READ MORE ABOUT ADAM YAMEY'S WRITING 


by clicking









Saturday, 24 November 2012

HYDERABAD'S CRUMBLING MASTERPIECE



Portico and staircase

At first glance, there is little to suggest that the portico in  the picture shown above is not  part of a Palladian-style country house somewhere in the English countryside. Maybe the two palm trees might lead one to think otherwise, but even in England the occasional palm tree survives the country's often inclement climate. However, it is not in England, but in the heart of Hyderabad in the south of India. It was built to order for James Kirkpatrick (1764-1805), the British Resident at the Court of the Nizam of Hyderabad. Despite the European appearance of this magnificent building, its inspirer, Kirkpatrick, was far from being as conventional as the style of his Residence might suggest at first glance. Having converted to Islam, he married Khair-um-Nissa, the daughter of a senior official in the Nizam's court, and they had  two children. His extraordinary tale is related in great detail in White Mughals written by William Dalrymple.



In August 2012, my wife and I motored to Hyderabad from Bangalore. We spent four days in this fascinating city filled with fine examples of Islamic architecturebuilt over a number of centuries. One afternoon, after having visited the huge and eclectic Salar Jung Museum, my wife asked our driver (who hailed from Bangalore and knew nothing of Hyderabad's geography) to drive us there.

Neither I nor my wife had read Dalrymple's book, but the guidebook which we were using, The Footprint South India Handbook, mentioned that the book had been launched in the Residency (in about 2002), and that the building was worth seeing. We set off to look for it, knowing that it is located in the grounds of the Osmania University College For Women, whose grounds stretch down to the left bank of the River Musi. Our only map was that sketched out in the guidebook, and that proved to be unhelpful to say the least! Our driver spoke Telugu, the local language in Hyderabad, and so we asked him to find our way to the University by asking pedestrians and other road users the way. 

Many of Hyderabad's public institutions include the word 'Osmania' in thier name, and it was on this word that people whom we asked focussed. Thus, we found ourselves circling the Osmania Medical College, an Osmania Hospital, and many other places that were definitely not the Osmania University College for Women. We knew that we must be close, but our quest was elusive. I was ready to give up and return to the comfort of our quarters at the Secunderabad Club, but my wife was more persistent. She was not going to give up so easily  

After driving in ever decreasing circles often along two-way alleys only the width of only one vehicle, we finally homed in on the entrance to the University's compound. 

Ravaged lion

We drove through the gate and parked just inside the grounds. Moments later, an angry watchman came running up and asked us what we were doing entering the private College grounds. My wife told him in Hindustani that we had to meet with the Principal. The watchman pointed out the Administration Block and my wife disappeared inside. Meanwhile, we were allowed to drive further into the grounds, and I disembarked outside the grandiose portico of the former British Residency, its steps flanked by two carved lions in a poor state of preservation. I stood waiting in the hot sunshine. Groups of students, many of them wearing head scarves or hijab, passed, carrying folders and bundles of books under their arms.

A few minutes later, my wife arrived along with a young man from the office. He informed us that the Residency was in a poor state, and that it was unsafe to enter. Nevertheless, he unlocked it, and we entered.


Portico roof

A door at the rear of the building gave us access to the interior. We followed our guide to the magnificent main staircase, which we climbed.


Staircase ceiling

At the top, we entered a gallery that looked down on to the ballroom.


Staircase

We returned back down the staircase, trying to avoid touching its fragile, barely attached handrail and visted some of the rooms at the building's rear. Many of these were litterd with books and desks. They had been used as classrooms until recently.


Class room

Our guide took us back into the front part of the building and into the grand ballroom.


Ballroom

Now the home of pigeons and no doubt other pests, Kirkpatrick's crumbling Residence is in danger of imminent and sudden collapse. I am not sure how many heavy monsoon downpours this fragile architectural gem will be able to withstand.


Ancient mechanism

Listed as a Protected Building by the Archaeological Survey of India, and also by the UN, this building continues to disintegrate because of lack of funds as well as administrative squabbles such as those that hinder the preservation/restoration of other valuable historical sites in India. 

We feel privileged that we were able to view this building at such close quarters, but hope that we are not amongst the last to do so!






READ ABOUT ADAM YAMEY's 
published works 
by
clicking










Friday, 16 November 2012

A BUNNY & A BARISTA









The red line shows the route takebn by an Italian soldier crossing
Albania in 1941 during Mussolini's invasion of Greece



Having been successively occupied by The Ottomans (for several centuries), the Italians  and then the Germans, it is not at all surprising that the traditionally hospitable Albanians became somewhat suspicious of foreigners by the end of the Second World War. This xenophobia , which was exploited by Albania's dictator Enver Hoxha, led to Albania adopting an isolationist approach rivalled only by countries like Mongolia (until recently) and North Korea (still today). The following is a brief introduction to Adam Yamey's new book Albania on my Mind. It includes quotes from the book.



 When I became a dentist in 1982, the idea of ever treating a patient from Albania would have seemed almost as unlikely as meeting someone from Mongolia. Both were places that hardly anyone visited from the West, and from which visitors to the West were few and far between. Well, 30 years later, everything has changed. Almost daily I treat Mongolians and Albanians (both from Albania itself and also from Kosovo). Whilst I have never set foot in Mongolia, I have visited Albania.

I visited the country in 1984 when it was even more isolated from the rest of the world than North Korea is today. In those days, Albania was firmly under the control of Enver Hoxha, a dictator who counted Josef Stalin as his friend and inspirer.

Occasionally, when chatting to my patients from Albania (in English), I relate curious incidents that I recall from my short, but illuminating visit to Hoxha’s heavily guarded stronghold. Some of my audience are too young to remember life under the dictatorship, but those who are old enough say that what I relate is only too painfully true. One gentleman, aged about 45 and brought up in Albania, said after hearing one or two of my anecdotes:
You must write these things down. No one believes me when I tell about how terrible it was living in Albania in those times, but they will believe you, an observer from the outside world.”
And, that is exactly what I’ve done in my book Albania on my Mind.

My book is divided into two main sections. The first deals with how I became obsessed with Albania, and the second contains a collection of memories of the trip I made there in 1984.

My interest in the country began when I used to spend,
 “…much of my spare time during my mid-teens haunting second-hand bookshops.
In the second half of the 1960s, Hampstead Village, which was in easy walking distance of my family home, had at least 5 such establishments. My favourite store… was run by a scholarly old man. He sat reading in his untidy shop, surrounded by books, which were scattered disorderly on every available surface including the floor. Every now and then, he used to burst out laughing and would then read aloud, often in Latin, to whoever was in his shop. …I found and bought a number of old world atlases in his shop. Most of them were published between the two World Wars. I used to spend hours leafing through them, admiring their beautifully drawn maps. … One day, whilst examining one of my atlases, I saw a country, which I had not noticed before. It was Albania.”
My curiosity about Albania was aroused. I needed to know more about this place, about which so little information was available in the 1960s. Even today, not many people know much about it.

As the years passed, I made numerous trips to places in the Balkans from where I could catch a glimpse of the country which was beginning to tantalise me. On one trip, I took a bus over the Cakor Pass which links Kosovo with Montenegro. It traverses the mountains shared by these places and Albania. When the bus stopped at the top of the pass,
…a grubby little boy approached me. He said something to me in a language, which I did not recognise as being Serbo-Croat. It was probably Albanian. Somehow, he made it clear to me that he wanted foreign coins. I thought that he was either a beggar, or more likely, just a curious youngster pleased to have chanced upon a foreigner. I gave him a few British coins, and then he rummaged around in his pocket.  After a moment, he handed me a few Yugoslav Dinar coins, and left. He was no beggar, after all, but simply a young fellow with a well-developed sense of fairness.”

Although it was impossible to speak with Albanians in Albania - contact between them and foreigners was strictly discouraged by the authorities - I did manage to discover how friendly they are when I stayed in Kosovo, the part of Serbia which has an enormous Albanian population. When I disembarked at the bus station in the Kosovan town of Prizren sometime in the 1970s,
“…I was immediately surrounded by people, mostly young men. Everyone wanted to know my name, rather than my nationality or where I had come from. When I said it was ‘Adam’, they then asked me whether I was a Moslem. The answer did not seem to matter to them; they were just pleased to meet a stranger.”
Contrast this with what happened within 12 hours of my arrival in Albania in 1984:
After lunch, the Australian, who was travelling with us, called me aside, looking shocked.  He told me that when he was in the hotel’s lift, an Albanian couple began to strike up a conversation with him, but stopped abruptly mid-sentence. It was, he felt, as if they were keen to speak to an outsider, but became scared of the consequences of being caught doing so. Maybe, they had been worried, not without reason, that the lift might have been fitted with a hidden microphone.
In fact, whenever anyone wanted to try to talk to us in the country, they were warned against doing so by others standing nearby. Even our Albanian guides were wary of what they said to us. We, the foreign tourists, were regarded not only as guests (the guest is held sacred by traditional Albanians), but also as potentially dangerous intruders from the hostile world beyond Albania’s hermetically sealed borders. They were constantly keeping an eye on each other as well as us.

My trip to Albania was a truly remarkable experience. I am certain,
“…that the Albanians did not regard us as being simple tourists, but rather as potential messengers. We were being shown the country with a view, so our hosts hoped, to providing us with information that we could use to broadcast to the world how well Albania was progressing along the isolationist path it had chosen to take.”
I am not sure that the message we took home was quite what the Albanians had hoped. We were taken around a factory, of which our hosts were very proud. It purported to make precision instruments, but, 
… the sliding (Vernier) calliper, which had been made in the factory… was a crude object, whose jaw slid jerkily rather than smoothly. The markings were badly scored and looked a little irregular.” ‘Precision’ it was not!
And, although the Albanian-built tractor on display at an exhibition of Albanian industrial products in Tirana,
… differed in design from the Chinese tractors that we had seen on our travels, we had not seen even one of these home-made machines anywhere outside the exhibition.”
Nor, could I find outside the exhibition any samples of the
…yellow plastic bunny rabbit holding a rifle in exactly the same pose as the soldier, who had watched our arrival at the Albanian frontier.
I would have loved to have bought one of these to protect my garden.

It is easy to criticise, but one must not forget to praise. Even if I was unable to meet many Albanians on the tour I made in 1984, I cannot fault our hosts on the care that they took to make sure that we were comfortable and well-fed. Although their main interest appeared to be to ply us with propaganda and to show us what they wanted us to see, they showed us a great cross-section of their beautiful country.

I have not revisited Albania since 1984, but would like to do so. Never in my wildest dreams in my younger days did I imagine that I would now be able to slip out of my surgery, enter a neighbourhood café, and then order a cappuccino from an Albanian barista. And, the smile of gratitude, which I receive when I thank him by saying ‘faleminderit’ and shout ‘mir u pafshim’ when I leave, melts my heart. Even as I write this piece, I realise that although many years have passed, I still have Albania on my mind.



ALBANIA ON MY MIND is available in  Kindle on Amazon web-sites
&
in paperback by clicking HERE






Monday, 12 November 2012

ALBANIA






 ALBANIA ON MY MIND

by

Adam YAMEY





It struck me that Albania was the sort of place that might keep a man from yawning
                                                                                                            [ From The 39 Steps, JBuchan,1915]



The people of Albania achieved independence in 1913, having endured several centuries of Ottoman domination. After the First World War, they lived under a series of dictatorships beginning with that of King Zog. He was followed by Mussolini, and then by Hitler. They were ‘liberated’ by the Communist partisans at the end of the Second World War, only to be subjected to yet another dictatorship. This was led by Enver Hoxha. During his 30 year ‘reign’ Albania became even more impenetrable to outside observers than North Korea is today.

Hoxha rejected his close allies, the Soviet Union and then later the People’s Republic of China, and then tried to make his country to become self-sufficient by isolating it from the rest of the world.

In this book about Albania, published to celebrate 100 years of Albania’s independence, Adam Yamey describes how his almost obsessive interest in the country developed and what he discovered about life inside the country’s closely guarded, tightly sealed borders when he managed to visit it in 1984, the last year of Enver Hoxha’s life. 



Available on KINDLE and in paperback by clicking HERE

Friday, 2 November 2012

PACKAGE FROM ALBANIA




Excerpt from my forthcoming book "Albania on my Mind"

I had a Phillips radio in my bedroom. It was a valve radio, rather than the more modern transistor-based instruments, which were already available in the 1960s. Once it had warmed up - a slow business taking up to a minute - and had stopped emitting crackling sounds, it was able to receive broadcasts on three wavebands including short-wave. I used to enjoy twiddling its tuning knob, and listening to broadcasts transmitted from all over the world. It was a window to the world beyond the confines of the highly manicured, desirable but rather dull, Hampstead Garden Suburb, where we lived.

One day, I tuned in on an exceptionally clear transmission, and listened with some curiosity and a great amount of surprise to a woman who was speaking perfect English with only the hint of a foreign accent. After a few minutes, she informed her audience far and wide that they were listening to the voice of Radio Tirana. I could not believe my ears. I made a mark on the tuning gauge to ensure that I would be able to find this station again.  I tuned into Radio Tirana regularly, listening with astonishment and also amusement at the various commentators’ beautifully articulated words - mostly rants and raves directed against the actions of the imperialists and capitalists. These were punctuated by stirring Albanian songs sung in a style that was new to me, as I had never experienced the music of the Balkans before.

After a short while, I decided to write a letter to Radio Tirana. Somewhat tongue in cheek, I wrote to the unknown addressee (in English) that the songs, which were being broadcasted from Albania, inspired me greatly and helped to reinforce my faith in Socialism.  After addressing the letter’s envelope to ‘Radio Tirana, Tirana, Albania’, I waited with little expectation of receiving any kind of reply. I thought that it was more likely that I would receive a communication from MI5 or MI6 than anything from Albania. However, I was wrong to have been so pessimistic. A flat parcel, wrapped in brown paper and string, arrived by post a few weeks later. It was from Albania. I unwrapped it carefully, my fingers thrilling at the thought of handling something that had arrived from the mysterious country that had begun to interest me so greatly. 

The package contained a 10-inch diameter long-playing gramophone record in a garishly coloured cardboard sleeve. It was decorated with an electricity pylon; musicians in folk costumes; dancers dressed likewise; a man wearing baggy Turkish-style pantaloons; and an oil derrick. The plain, unadorned record label bore the name of the recording company: Pllake Shqipetare (‘Shqipëria’ being the Albanian word for Albania)...




Now, why not read  "ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE" ?


Dicing with debt, Jakob Klein struggles to support his growing family. He'll stop at nothing to achieve this. His dubious business ethics inevitably lead him into trouble with the law. He is imprisoned. His family have to flee from the small town in the Orange Free State, where they have lived. 

What wll become of them, and of Jakob? Will they ever be reunited? 

Read all about it in Adam Yamey's historical novel "ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE", available on AMAZON (Click HERE FOR KINDLE)  and also on www.lulu.com (Click HERE FOR PAPERBACK ) .

For more details, click HERE

Saturday, 27 October 2012

NEXT YEAR IN TIRANA



The words 'next year in Jerusalem' are recited at the end of every Passover celebration. 

But, what would have happened if Albania had become the Jewish Homeland instead of Palestine?

A far-fetched question, you might exclaim, but read on...


Of all the countries in mainland Europe occupied by the Axis Powers during the Second World War, Albania was unique in at least one respect. The number of Jews in that country was greater in 1945 than in 1939 despite being occupied by the 'Nazis'.   

This is reasonably well-known. However, what is much less well-known (to me, at least) is that once Albania was under consideration as a new homeland for the Jewish People.

Leo Elton (1883-1947), visited Albania in 1935. His niece, Dorothea Shefer-Vanson, wrote as follows: 

"An item in the newspaper ... 

...mentioned a document that had been sent to the president of the Hebrew University in 1945 concerning the possibility of settling some of the Jewish refugees then unable to gain access to Mandate-controlled Palestine in Albania. The idea itself was not so alien to me (it is mentioned in Martin Gilbert’s book Churchill and the Jews), but what made me catch my breath was the author of the document. This was Leo Elton, described as ‘a Zionist British journalist’ and known to me as a cousin of my father....

...From the handwritten letter accompanying the report we learned that Leo Elton had indeed visited Albania in 1935. He did so at his own initiative, prompted by newspaper reports of Albania’s willingness to accept Jewish immigration and the restrictions imposed upon entry into the Land of Israel by the British Mandatory authorities. As Martin pointed out, Uncle Leo, though no journalist, was a businessman and hence travelled extensively.
The report is entitled ‘Impressions of a Visit to Albania with Some Observations upon the Opportunities Open to Jewish Settlers in that Country’. Written in impeccable if somewhat flowery English, the report describes in considerable detail the physical, social and economic conditions of Albania, noting ‘it touches the heart how Albania too withered for so long under the blighting hand of the Turk.’ The comparison with the situation in Mandatory Palestine is very clear, and Uncle Leo points out: ‘Although I judge Albania to possess many great natural advantages over Palestine, it has travelled but a very few steps compared with the latter on the road back to vigour and prosperity....

...The soil of Albania is described as fertile and its population sparse, with only one million inhabitants. Leo Elton found that though the population was Muslim, it was not warlike or extreme in character. As we know today, only one Albanian-Jewish family was deported and killed by the Nazis, despite Mussolini’s occupation of the country. All Albania’s Jews were taken in and protected by their Muslim neighbours... "

The whole article may be read by clicking HERE


More detail about Elton's visit were published recently in Haaretz, a Jewish newspaper: 

"...So he traveled to the tiny country of a million inhabitants, which was completely cut off from industrialized Europe. A government minister told him that "in Albania religious intolerance is quite unknown .... The Albanian Muslims of today are no fanatics."

The minister also emphasized that, in contrast to the rest of Europe, Albania had no history of anti-Semitism. "There is no reason whatsoever to expect that Jewish settlers would not live in complete harmony with the population's diverse elements," Elton wrote...

...The oranges and lemons, Elton enthused, were the best in the world, and Jews' success in raising oranges in pre-state Israel could be replicated in Albania. Other suggestions included growing tobacco and raising silkworms, and building up the textile and olive-oil industries. The less positive side, according to Elton, was that the capital Tirana had no theaters or concert halls...

...As a first stage Elton recommended establishing a Jewish national entity in Albania like the one in Mandatory Palestine, with the cooperation of two Zionist movements. Later Albania might even be turned into a Jewish national home...

The full text of this article may be read by clicking HERE



You can read more about ALBANIA by clicking HERE



  







ALBANIAN LIBRARY



This is a brief annotated bibliography containing some of the books on Albania, which I have enhoyed reading. It is by no means comprehensive. I have arranged them in order of date of publication.


Durham, M.E.: “High Albania”, publ. Edward Arnold (London) 1909.
Margaret Durham was an anthropologist who fell in love with the Balkans. This describes in great detail the history and anthropology of the tribes living in the remote mountains of northern Albania. There are modern editions of this beautifully written and illustrated classic available.

Peacock, W.: “Albania: The Foundling State of Europe”, publ. Chapman & Hall (London), 1914.
This is a fascinating, detailed account of life in and around Shkodër during the first years of Albanian independence. The author was attached to the British Consulate in Shkodër. His chapter on the future of Albania makes for interesting reading in the light of what actually happened.

Gordon, J & Gordon, C.: “Two vagabonds in Albania”, publ. John Lane The Bodley Head (London), 1927.
Jan and Cora Gordon wrote a large number of “Two Vagabonds in…” travelogues. This one, which describes their trip to Albania, is beautifully illustrated with the authors’ line drawings and chalk sketches. The text is humorous and informative.


Bridge, A.: “Singing Waters”, publ. Macmillan (New York), 1946.
Not quite as good as Bridge’s “Illyrian Spring”, her superb novel set in the Balkans, “Singing Waters” is set largely in Albania.

Muggeridge, M. (ed.): “Ciano’s Diary: 1939 -1943”, publ. William Heinemann (London), 1947.
                This is a translation of Count Ciano’s secret diary, which was smuggled out of Italy by Ciano’s wife at the end of WW2. According to Mosely, who wrote a biography of Ciano, this is a largely accurate account of the events described in the diary. The first chapter of the diary describes the vents leading up to the Italian invasion of Albania.

Buda, A., Cun, J., Rrok, Z., & Skënder, A.: Guide d’Albanie”, publ. by Editions “Albturist” (Tirana), 1958.
Difficult to obtain, this guide produced whilst the Albanians were still allies of the Soviet Union is remarkably detailed. The historical section ends with an affirmation of the country’s alliance with the Soviet Union, ‘… le grand sauveur et défenseur de notre people.

Hamm, H.:  Albania - China’s beachhead in Europe”, publ. Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London), 1963.
Harry Hamm was a German journalist who was allowed to visit Albania in 1962. He was the first western journalist to visit the country since 1957. He arrived just after the Albanians had divorced themselves from the Soviet Union. He describes this break up between former allies in great detail. He also foretells the alliance of Albania and the People’s Republic of China, which began soon after his visit. Hard to find, this is a fascinating book.

Logoreci, A.: “The Albanians”, publ. Westview Press (Colorado), 1977.
Published just after the death of Mao Tse Tung, this scholarly but readable book gives many interesting insights about the political, social, and economic conditions prevailing in Hoxha’s Albania. He predicts the rift that developed between China and Albania not long after Mao’s death. The book ends with a comprehensive reading list over five pages in length.

Kadare, I.: “Broken April”. First published in 1978, numerous editions are available. 
This haunting tale, which revolves around the Law of Lek, the codification of feuding in traditional Albania, is a brief but brilliant story about the last days of a young man expecting to be killed in an inter-familial vendetta. As in his other works, Ismail Kadare captures a great deal with a few words.

Ward, P.: “Albania”, publ. Oleander Press (Cambridge), 1983.
The author describes his trip to Albania and uses it as the framework for his informative illustrated guidebook. It is the most interesting guidebook to the country that I have come across.

Halliday, J.: “The Artful Albanian”, publ. Chatto & Windus, 1986.
                This book contains a number of extracts from the voluminous writings of Enver Hoxha and interesting commentaries about them. I lent my copy to one of the people with whom I travelled to Albania, and she never returned it. If she is reading this now, I ask her to return it immediately.

Robyns, G.: “Geraldine of the Albanians: The Authorised Biography”, publ. Frederick Muller Ltd, 1987.
This true-life Mills and Boon tale, a biography of King Zog’s Hungarian wife, was written by Barbara Cartland’s biographer. It includes a description of Geraldine whimpering into her pillow on being deflowered.

Jones, L.: “Biografi”, publ. André Deutsch, 1993.
                This curious tale about the fate of one of Enver Hoxha’s doubles in post-communist Albania contains good descriptions of conditions in the country soon after the end of communist rule.

Pettifer, J.: “Blue Guide: Albania”, publ. A&C Black (London), 1994.
 Published soon after Albania shed its communist regime, this detailed guidebook does its best in his section on ‘Personal Security’ to portray Albania as a lawless place, to which only the foolhardy visitor should stray. This book provides an encyclopaedic account of Albania and her people.

Mosely, R.: Mussolini’s Shadow”, publ. Yale University Press (New Haven), 1999.
This detailed biography of Count Ciano, Mussolini’s foreign minister and son-in-law contains a chapter on the Italian involvement in in Albania during WW2.

Kadare, I.: “The Successor”, published in 2003.
This chilling tale, which explores the mysterious death of the successor to a political leader, is most probably based on the sudden death of Enver Hoxha’s right hand man and probable successor Mehmet Shehu.

Tomes, J.: “King Zog: Self-made monarch of Albania”, publ. Sutton (Stroud, Gloucestershire), 2003.
This well-written, interestingly detailed account of Zog’s life in Albania, and then later in exile, includes a chapter about the Western Allies attempts to wrest Albania from the Communists in the 1950s.


Kadare, I.: The Accident: a novel”, first published in 2009.
This recent novel by world famous author Ismail Kadare concerns the investigation of a mysterious traffic accident near to Vienna’s airport. This story does not make for easy reading. It is deliberately confusing. I suspect that it gives the reader a good insight into the tortuous thought processes that were needed to survive in the oppressive atmosphere that was inspired by Albania's long serving dictator Enver Hoxha.  




HAVE you read  "ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE" ?


Dicing with debt, Jakob Klein struggles to support his growing family. He'll stop at nothing to achieve this. His dubious business ethics inevitably lead him into trouble with the law. He is imprisoned. His family have to flee from the small town in the Orange Free State, where they have lived. 

What wll become of them, and of Jakob? Will they ever be reunited? 

Read all about it in Adam Yamey's historical novel "ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE", available on AMAZON (Click HERE FOR KINDLE)  and also on www.lulu.com (Click HERE FOR PAPERBACK ) .

For more details, click HERE