Obsessive Compulsive

Ismail Kadare
The Accident
(Grove Press, 2010)

A man and a beautiful woman are killed when a taxi veers off an autobahn in Vienna. The victims are both Albanian immigrants, and the last thing the driver can remember before crashing is that, from his rearview mirror, it looked like they were about to kiss.

In Ismail Kadare’s new novel, this “unclassifiable accident” becomes the focus of a nameless researcher. The two had been lovers for many years. An obsessive love set against the backdrop of the last war in the Balkans. Could there be political reasons for their deaths? Was the accident no accident at all? Through extensive interviews and his own imaginings, the researcher attempts to get to the heart of the sexual jealousy between the two.

The Accident is meticulously rendered and subtly nuanced. Written by the first winner of the Man Booker International Prize, it demands the reader’s attention as it delves deeper and deeper into a story of tortured love. Translated from Albanian by John Hodgson, the book is both urgent and languid. It is at once an exploration of human nature and a keen observation of Albanian life in the aftermath of socialist rule. It provides insight into the early days of the European Union and the fall of socialism. The text is spare, urgent. The Accident is as compelling as the love affair it documents.


Maxine Case


FEB 2011

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