The Siege

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The Siege by Ismail Kadare
Translated from French by David Bellos
Published by Canongate, May 2008

The Ottoman Army – the most powerful the world had known by that time – lays siege to a Christian fortress in the mountains of Albania. Above the colourful host looms the great dark wall of the citadel that has to be overcome. Told partly through the personal narrative of one of the defenders, partly through the eyes of the Ottoman chronicler Mevla Çelebi, Ismail Kadare’s The Siege is a gripping narrative of a bloody, complex struggle that ends in defeat and desolation for both sides. Its story of blood, gore and boiling pitch provides Ismail Kadare with another vehicle for his long meditation on human relations, human folly, the ambiguities of power and the meaning of history. The thoughts and sufferings of his fifteenth-century warriors are barely distinguishable from those that afflict us in the modern world.



Isil Kadare was born in 1936 in Gjirokastër, in the south of Albania. His first novel, The General of the Dead Army, established him as a major new voice in literature, and translations of his novels have since been published in more than forty countries. In 2005 he won the inaugural Man Booker International Prize.


David Bellos, a Professor of French and Comparative Literature, has translated five of Kadare’s novels and was awarded the Translator’s Man Booker International Prize in 2005.





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