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A Dictator Calls

Ismail Kadare John Hodgson

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21 November 2023
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The new novel from the first winner of the Man Booker International Prize, inspired by three minutes in June 1934 when Joseph Stalin allegedly called Boris Pasternak. A fascinating meditation on Soviet Russia, authoritarianism, power structures and a period of great writers.

"Comrade Stalin wishes to speak with you."

In June 1934, Joseph Stalin allegedly telephoned the famous novelist and poet Boris Pasternak to discuss the arrest of fellow Soviet poet Osip Mandelstam. In a fascinating combination of dreams and dossier facts, Ismail Kadare reconstructs the three minutes they spoke and the aftershocks of this tense, mysterious moment in modern history.

Weaving together the accounts of witnesses, reporters and writers - such as Isaiah Berlin and Anna Akhmatova - A Dictator Calls is a gripping story of power and political structures, of the relationship between writers and tyranny. The telling brings to light uncanny parallels with Kadare's experience writing under dictatorship, when he received an unexpected phone call of his own.

Translated from the Albanian by John Hodgson

'Kadare is one of Europe's most consistently interesting and powerful contemporary novelists, a writer whose stark, memorable prose imprints itself on the reader's consciousness.' Los Angeles Times

Translated by:  
Imprint:   Harvill
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 204mm,  Width: 138mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   317g
ISBN:   9781787303638
ISBN 10:   1787303632
Pages:   224
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  Professional and scholarly ,  College/higher education ,  ELT Advanced ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Ismail Kadare is Albania's best-known novelist and poet. Translations of his novels have appeared in more than forty countries. He was awarded the inaugural Man Booker International Prize in 2005, the Jerusalem Prize in 2015, the Park Kyong-ni Prize in 2019 and the Neustadt Prize in 2020.

Reviews for A Dictator Calls

One of Europe's most decorated authors... Seasoned fans [of Kadare] will be enthralled by this very personal meditation on the circumstances in which, against the odds, he [Pasternak] still managed to thrive * Sunday Times * An inquiry concerning power, artistic integrity, fame, memory and more… A Dictator Calls is slim, but its themes are not… the riddles of this novel are still ringing in my mind * Sunday Telegraph * Albania’s greatest living writer… A Dictator Calls is a thought-provoking consideration of the relationship between writers and tyranny, with John Hodgson’s translation gracefully rendering Kadare’s imagination. * Financial Times *

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