Books

Grove Press
Canongate U.S.
Grove Press

The Siege

by Ismail Kadare

Winner of the inaugural 2005 Man Booker International Prize, Ismail Kadare’s The Siege is an absorbing, timeless, psychological study into human cunning, battlefield strategy, and the grinding effects of warfare. Finally available in English, The Siege marks an exciting publishing event from a revered modern master.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 336
  • Publication Date July 13, 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4475-1
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $15.00
  • Imprint Canongate U.S.
  • Page Count 336
  • Publication Date February 10, 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-8476-7185-1
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $24.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-9697-2
  • US List Price $15.00

About The Book

Winner of the inaugural 2005 Man Booker International Prize, Ismail Kadare’s The Siege is an absorbing, timeless, psychological study into human cunning, battlefield strategy, and the grinding effects of warfare. Finally available in English, The Siege marks an exciting publishing event from a revered modern master.

Ismail Kadare’s The Siege dramatizes a relentless fictional assault on a Christian fortress in the Albanian mountains by the Ottoman Army in the fifteenth century. As the bloody and psychologically crushing attack for control over the citadel unfolds, Kadare’s newest work opens a literary window onto the eternal clash between religions and empires as well as the exhilaration, despair, and immediacy of the battlefield. The imperial pasha—an instrument of the vast bureaucracy of the Ottoman Empire—is the commander in chief of a war council that debates and decides the strategies and methods meant to grind away at the Albanians’ hold on their citadel and their very way of life. The pasha’s cabinet embodies the political and strategic impulses that have characterized the mechanics of warfare throughout history: the engineer behind a technologically unprecedented weapon; the embattled leader of the restless foot soldiers and artillerymen; as well as the poet, war chronicler, and astrologer who place it all in a larger context. All the while, the pasha’s harem soothes his greatest fears and insecurities as the siege becomes increasingly oppressive and hopeless—both for the besiegers and the besieged. Kadare is a hugely respected novelist and a hero to his people, as well as an outspoken critic of all forms of totalitarianism. The Siege, Kadare’s latest work, is a novel of considerable cumulative power and resonance for our own times.

Praise

“[A]nother masterpiece . . . [The Siege is] an original approach to an old story many times retold; a song sung in an eloquently expressive voice, both agelessly familiar and refreshingly new.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Kadare’s political courage made him a hero; his sense of irony and his powerful command of narrative are what make him a writer.” —The Boston Globe

“Ismail 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

“[The Siege] is an artifact of a different world . . . A nationalist parable.” —Bookforum

“Extraordinary: an epic with the force of myth and the delicacy of a miniature . . . You could read The Siege every year for a lifetime and find something new each time. There seems no reason to refrain from calling this ideal collaboration between author and translator a masterpiece.” —The Sunday Telegraph

“Kadare’s poker-faced sense of humor and eye for the characters’ secret absurdities, tragic as well as comic, make the book more than a coded protest from a cold war backwater. The urgent gestures toward something that’s not quite said somehow make the story linger in the mind long after the regime in which The Siege was written went the way of the empire it dreams back to life.” —The Guardian

“Composed with grace and economy throughout, it is as relevant now as it was nearly four decades ago.” —The Herald

“His fiction offers invaluable insights into life under tyranny—his historical allegories point both to the grand themes and small details that make up daily life in a restrictive environment. But his books are of more than just political statement—at his best he is a great writer, by any nation’s standards.” —Finacial Times

“Kadare, a Man Booker International Prize-winner and Nobel contender, crafts a story whose details add up to a glimpse into the soul of his own country. Kadare’s metaphors leave no doubt that the novel is also an insightful commentary on life in late 1960s Albania.” —Publishers Weekly

“Drawing on Albanian history and folklore as well as the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Kadaer weaves a resonant tapestry of war that evokes battlefield dramas ranging from The Iliad to today’s headlines . . . recommended for large fiction collections.” —Library Journal

Awards

Longlisted for the Arts Council England’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

Excerpt

“With a people of that kind we are not going to have an easy time,” the Quartermaster concluded. “With them, or with any of the other Balkan tribes.”

“We shall smite them and destroy them without remission until they are wiped from the face of the earth,” the Chronicler replied.

“Yes, yes, I know,” the Quartermaster riposted. “But the question remains, how do we smite them, and where do we smite them, and, above all, to what purpose? You talked of annihilating them. But let me ask three questions. One: is it possible to wipe out an entire people? Two: if the first answer is yes, then by what means? Three—and remember this, Çelebi, third questions are usually the trickiest—I ask you: is it desirable to do so? Or to be more precise: do we still need to do it?”

In all current ways of talking as well as in all of the ancient chronicles, exterminating the enemy was considered the crowning glory of victory. Whereas he was now being told the opposite! If the Quartermaster had not been such an important personage, Çelebi would have walked away without looking back. Now he had got aches in all his joints again and his arms felt as if they had been crushed by bludgeons.