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Broken April

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From the moment that Gjorg's brother is killed by a neighbour, his own life is forfeit: for the code of Kanun requires Gjorg to kill his brother's murderer and then in turn be hunted down. After shooting his brother's killer, young Gjorg is entitled to thirty days' grace - not enough to see out the month of April. Then a visiting honeymoon couple cross the path of the fugit From the moment that Gjorg's brother is killed by a neighbour, his own life is forfeit: for the code of Kanun requires Gjorg to kill his brother's murderer and then in turn be hunted down. After shooting his brother's killer, young Gjorg is entitled to thirty days' grace - not enough to see out the month of April. Then a visiting honeymoon couple cross the path of the fugitive. The bride's heart goes out to Gjorg, and even these 'civilised' strangers from the city risk becoming embroiled in the fatal mechanism of vendetta.

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From the moment that Gjorg's brother is killed by a neighbour, his own life is forfeit: for the code of Kanun requires Gjorg to kill his brother's murderer and then in turn be hunted down. After shooting his brother's killer, young Gjorg is entitled to thirty days' grace - not enough to see out the month of April. Then a visiting honeymoon couple cross the path of the fugit From the moment that Gjorg's brother is killed by a neighbour, his own life is forfeit: for the code of Kanun requires Gjorg to kill his brother's murderer and then in turn be hunted down. After shooting his brother's killer, young Gjorg is entitled to thirty days' grace - not enough to see out the month of April. Then a visiting honeymoon couple cross the path of the fugitive. The bride's heart goes out to Gjorg, and even these 'civilised' strangers from the city risk becoming embroiled in the fatal mechanism of vendetta.

30 review for Broken April

  1. 5 out of 5

    Adina

    A to Z around the world- A is for Albania It took a while for me to write this review because I wanted to say quite a lot and I did not know where to start or how to organize my thoughts (still don’t). Real life interference did not help either. This is going to be long so I made some headlines for easier navigation. The Author and the novel in short Ismail Kadare is probably the best know Albanian writer and one of the best resources to learn about the country’s tumultuous past, culture and ment A to Z around the world- A is for Albania It took a while for me to write this review because I wanted to say quite a lot and I did not know where to start or how to organize my thoughts (still don’t). Real life interference did not help either. This is going to be long so I made some headlines for easier navigation. The Author and the novel in short Ismail Kadare is probably the best know Albanian writer and one of the best resources to learn about the country’s tumultuous past, culture and mentality. He started writing during the Communist regime in Albania and most of his work was either criticized or banned in the country because it appeared to criticized the regime. Kadare became famous internationally when his novel, The General of the Dead Army, was published in France. In Broken April, Kadare writes about one of them most peculiar and specific parts of Albanian culture, the feudal set of laws, Kanun, and its terrible Vendetta rules, Gjakmarrja. When one person is killed the family members are bound to revenge the murder by taking the life of the killer and so on. In the novel, Gjorgu, kills his brother’s murderer and is waiting his turn to be hunted down by the dead man’s family. He has to perform all the necessary preparations for the vendetta to continue its bloody course, including a walk to a distant village to pay a ``blood tax'' to the region's ruling family. Bessian and Diana are in their Honeymoon. Since the husband makes a living writing about the Kanun, he proposed to visit the remote mountain villages where the laws are most prevalent. Although at the beginning the couple is close, as they continue their journey and discover more about the traditions they become more and more distant. While Bessian finds himself fascinated by the Kanun and Gjakmarrja, Diana is silently appalled. One day, Diana sees Gjorgu as he returns from the blood tax payment and becomes fascinated by the young man and marked by his sad destiny. During the remaining of their trip the couple will be followed by the specter of Gorju’s impending death. Albanian History To understand the appearance of The Kanun in Albania I believe the history of the country should be understood. It was the victim of numerous wars, occupations and sorrows, like almost all Balkan countries. My Albanian GR friend. Lorena, wrote this to me about her country’s history and I believe it explains a lot. “Albania was always a cross country where rulers, kings, princes, leaders of various countries came and went away, each of them draining the people's energy and motive. Don't forget the roman empire rule, the Byzantium rule, ottoman empire rule for almost 500 years, 2 world wars and later the Italian protectorate. Just think about what a mixture of mentalities and circumstance behaviours developed throughout history.” The different rulers and lack of trust in justice made the remote villages in the mountains to develop their own set of rules. The Kanun According to Wikipedia, The Kanun was developed by Lekë Dukagjini, who codified the existing customary laws. It was spread mainly in the mountainous North of the country where foregners and their laws could not enter. It can also be found in the surrounding areas formerly in Yugoslavia where there is a large ethnic Albanian population; Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia. It was first codified in the 15th century and it was used in that for until 20th century. It was recently after the fall of the communist regime in the early 1990s. While not unique in concept it’s strict set of rules made Albanian Kanun probably the most feared. Regarding the Gjakmarrja, the laws say that if someone is killed the family members have to find and revenge the murder with blood. However, it doesn’t stop here. The family of the initial murderer now has to revenge their death and so on. The result is generations old family feuds and hundreds of deaths, resulting even in the complete decimation of a family. If this was crazy, note that if a person is murdered as a guest, the host is responsible to revenge the death. So, if you are lucky enough to have your guest killed, then the course is on you. The person is someone’s guest until it leaves the borders of the village where the host’s house is located. If the murdered person is outside the village but still looking towards it then the responsibility is still with the host. Maybe this is a good reason not to have any visitors in your house, isn’t it? Well you can’t. According to the Kanun, visitors cannot be denied entrance in a house without facing serious punishment. In the novel, an entire village was burned down because they refused to shelter a visitor. As such, if a stranger knock on the door he has to be received, no matter if he wears the Gjakmarrja mark, a black bandana around the arm. I also have to mention a few marriage rules. Marriage is never cancelled. Even if the future wife is dying she will be brought to get married. If there is a death in the family the marriage will continue. The dead goes out of the house and the wife inside. The husband receives from the woman’s family, together with the dowry, a bullet in case the wife is unfaithful. I was appalled by all these rules, which in my opinion are barbaric and illogic. I might be able to understand them in feudal ages but some of them are still used Today. Many Albanian have left the country citing the blood feuds as the reason for their refugee seeking. Some were fake, true, as the endemic corruption in Albania found a way to make money from this as well. Corruption and bad management of the state is actually one of the main reasons of the Kanun revival. People believe that when the law does nothing to help then the responsibility for justice falls in one’s own hands. Feelings about Broken April The writing is simple, clinical, without embroideries. However, the feeling of doom and irreversibility is masterfully done. The repetition of the Kanun laws coming from different characters only adds to the overhanging dark atmosphere. Gorju’s silent reluctance to fulfill the laws which are bound to lead to his ultimate death and his preparations gave me goose bumps. The relationship between the married couple and their equally silent fallout added to the story and give two opposing perspectives that a stranger to these customs could have when he/she is faced with them. I am thankful that I read Broken April even if it haunted my dreams for a while. Also, now I understand the Taken movie plot.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    This is a strange book. When I lived in eastern Europe, I was told there were two sorts of Eastern European countries, those which were highly-developed and industrialized (Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary) and those which were not (Bulgaria, Romania) as well as those which were a mix of the two (Yugoslavia, Soviet Union) but no one knew anything about Albania. Reading this book, it's like the land that time forgot because you're never quite sure where you are in history. (As it turns out, it's A This is a strange book. When I lived in eastern Europe, I was told there were two sorts of Eastern European countries, those which were highly-developed and industrialized (Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary) and those which were not (Bulgaria, Romania) as well as those which were a mix of the two (Yugoslavia, Soviet Union) but no one knew anything about Albania. Reading this book, it's like the land that time forgot because you're never quite sure where you are in history. (As it turns out, it's Albania between the two World Wars but there are no clues.) Two story threads which meet but in an unsatisfying way, a land where blood vendettas between families last for centuries, people are travelling by coach, but it doesn't seem like another century, just a palce where progress has forgotten to arrive. I can't say that I liked the book or didn't like the book, only that it took me to a place where I'd never been and scared the shit out of me a bit.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lorenzo Berardi

    "Broken April" is a haunting story with an out of time charm. There are not many novels around with such a simple and yet powerfully evocative style. More than the plot in itself what counts here is the atmosphere Kadare is able to recreate. I actually perceived the mist and the cold as well as the brightless nights and the wind-swept landscapes where the novel takes place with an uncommon intensity. As a reader who gets easily distracted, "Broken April" meant an unusual business to me: this book "Broken April" is a haunting story with an out of time charm. There are not many novels around with such a simple and yet powerfully evocative style. More than the plot in itself what counts here is the atmosphere Kadare is able to recreate. I actually perceived the mist and the cold as well as the brightless nights and the wind-swept landscapes where the novel takes place with an uncommon intensity. As a reader who gets easily distracted, "Broken April" meant an unusual business to me: this book never lost its grip over me from the very first to the last page. I don't know that much about Albania apart from being aware that Italian fought a useless and aggressive war there ("We will break the kidneys of Albania!" barked Mussolini back in 1939) and that the country hosted one of the most senseless dictators - even for the crazy communist standards - in the world, Enver Hoxha. For a striking majority of Italians, contemporary Albania is a God-forsaken country, a place good for ruffians, pimps, prostitutes and hosting bogus universities where our dull politicians get their fake degrees. Besides, the massive waves of desperate immigration coming from the coasts of Albania which reached Italy in the 1990s didn't help in the way our neighbours are perceived. It's true how there are Albanians involved in criminal activities in Italy, but then again it's always the bad guys who get all the news. Just like it happens with Romanians - who share a similar bad reputation in Italy and had a megalomaniac dictator too - there are thousands of good, honest, hardworking and considerate Albanian immigrants between the Alps and Sicily. But this is pretty obvious, isn't it? "Broken April" deals at the same time with backwardness and cultural heritage of Albania introducing the equally wonderful and terrifying "Kanun" an ancient code to settle arguments and controversies in the remote Albanian plateaus. A code where vengeance through family feuds under brutal but strict rules is a focal point and that reminded me quite a lot the way disputes were handled in some parts of southern Italy and Sardinia. The Albanian Kanun, however, seem to be more structured and taken more seriously by the local inhabitants than its Italian less official counterparts. This novel speaks about the Kanun and the people living (and quite often dying) according to its principles, but it's also an excellent cross-section of the Albanian mountaineers, a people able to welcome the Church and the Islam without losing most of its peculiar habits and with a fascination for towers. There is a distinct beauty in the uniqueness of "Broken April" and this quality more than compensates the slight disappointment of a plot and an ending which could have been a bit better. Not that it really matters as what makes this novel very good is not its storytelling, but where the story itself happens. This is the first book by Ismail Kadare I've ever read and most likely the first of a long series. Here we have an author who definitely has something to say and somewhere to speak about. I'd like to listen more of it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ataur Rahman

    When reading this book I recalled "Blindness" of Saramago. Broken April is haunting, dark, disturbing and yet strangely attractive. The narration is so matter of fact yet the chill of death is looming in every word. It is the story of the relentless Kanun holding sway over the Albanian mountainsmen. The currency of the Kanunis death and so death seems as ever-present as money is in our society. There is always a sense of weirdness and unreality in the way the Mountainsmen deal with death, reveng When reading this book I recalled "Blindness" of Saramago. Broken April is haunting, dark, disturbing and yet strangely attractive. The narration is so matter of fact yet the chill of death is looming in every word. It is the story of the relentless Kanun holding sway over the Albanian mountainsmen. The currency of the Kanunis death and so death seems as ever-present as money is in our society. There is always a sense of weirdness and unreality in the way the Mountainsmen deal with death, revenge, honour, realtionships,obeisance. Yet there is the uncanny feeling that our so called modern society is perhaps no different in the way it kills and mechanises death. The only difference, perhaps, is the great democracy of death under Kanunin contrast to the modern ritual democracy coupled with hypocrisy of patriotism and other isms which send the young, meek, gullible, poor into the jaws of death...

  5. 4 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    ‘Broken April' is a historical fiction novel based on true facts about Albania's past. However, I thought a particular plot device, an ancient book of laws and social mores which is the source of the problems that the main character, Gjorg Berisha, endures, was a fictional invention of the author. Ffs, what real-life culture would codify into their common law rules about ritual assassinations, a cascading continuation of murder after murder of selected individuals to be passed down from generati ‘Broken April' is a historical fiction novel based on true facts about Albania's past. However, I thought a particular plot device, an ancient book of laws and social mores which is the source of the problems that the main character, Gjorg Berisha, endures, was a fictional invention of the author. Ffs, what real-life culture would codify into their common law rules about ritual assassinations, a cascading continuation of murder after murder of selected individuals to be passed down from generation to generation? No society would make up such an idiotic Code! Right? No, never happened! Uh, wait... The mind-boggling discoveries I made after googling some of the elements in this translated story, written in 1978, are that ritual blood feuds actually happened in Albania's past and are STILL happening today in the rural areas and mountains of Albania. Plus, an ancient book of laws and mores, a book called the Kanun which describes how when and where these murders should occur, along with required ritual chanting which must be performed while murdering, is actually a real book STILL followed religiously by some rural villages in Albania! The descriptions of what this ancient book contains remind me of parts of the Qu'ran, Bible and Torah, only WAY more bizarre since the laws in this book demand people follow additional social rules of ritual murder that seem insane to me. Any kind of death, whether accidental or intentional, begins an endless spiral of ritualized murder which must be performed within a year to restore the dead person's family's or village's honor. The dead person who is being avenged does not even have to be known to anyone in the village where the person died. The person who died could be a total stranger who was a temporary guest of a villager, like a thirsty traveler stopping to ask for a drink of water, who then was attacked by an unknown robber after leaving the village. The villager, not the unknown robber, becomes responsible for satisfying the Code of Blood Feud as stated in the Kanun. Unbelievably, there is a traditional legal system set up in the participating villages of Albania to adjudicate the Code. Certain Albanian elders are judged to be sufficiently learned in interpreting the laws of the Kanun. These gentlemen are sent for whenever there is a question who should be killed in response to a death, and who should be the 'justicer', as the murderer is officially named. It does not matter if the honor murder is performed on an innocent man or a guilty one as long as the selected individual satisfies the Kanun laws and rituals. The murder must be undertaken only in certain areas of a home or a town, in certain times of the day, within a year. A person selected to be murdered can travel safely while on certain designated roads and paths, but as soon as that person leaves the 'safe' road or path, then that person can be murdered. There are also designated 'safe houses', which actually are towers made of stone built here and there across the landscape in Albania. These towers are full of ex-justicers who are now vulnerable to revenge in the chain of murders in these blood feuds. These men can never leave the tower without fearing a bullet to the head. The Code requires that a murdered man's death must be avenged, and then that person's murder must be avenged, and then that murder must be avenged, and then that murder must be avenged, etc. Forever. Literally forever. I am not joking or exaggerating. In addition, if the murder is bungled, and only wounds are sustained by the selected person to have been murdered, then the justicer has to pay the victim a fine for each wound. Or they could count the wound as part settlement of the blood that was owed. In that case, the justicer can inflict wounds until the blood account was fully paid. Else, the clock is still ticking when the murder must occur by the justicer on the victim, and a fine is still owed the victim for each wound. Once the justicer accomplishes his blood-feud revenge murder, then he must pay a death tax to the local authorities (the authority who is in charge of collecting the blood tax is called 'The Steward of the Blood'). The justicer can be granted the short bessa - a 24-hour truce by the murdered man's family, or the murdered man's family can agree to giving the justicer a month-long truce - the long bessa. At the end of the bessa, the justicer can be killed by another appointed justicer in revenge, unless he goes to live in a tower of refuge, unable to ever leave the tower for the rest of his life. Traditional law is a bitch, gentle reader. Another character in the novel, Bessian Vorpsi, is a journalist. He is on his honeymoon with his beautiful wife, Diana, traveling to the high plateaus of the Albanian mountains. They both are modern urbanites, but Bessian has always wanted to see the Code at work. He thinks the Kanun is a romantic relic of Albanian history, majestic and legendary. But as their journey proceeds, he is puzzled more and more by Diana's behavior. As they pass men wearing black ribbons, the sign of the wearer being part of a blood feud and thus a walking dead man, Diana becomes withdrawn. Was it a mistake to have a honeymoon in the mountains? She did not know much about the Code, but as he explains it to her as they travel, she gets quieter and quieter. What is wrong? Does she not see it is the glorious choice of Shakespeare's Hamlet made large? Author Ismail Kadare is probably unknown to most of us, gentle reader. But he is famous in Europe, especially in France and Albania. In 2005 he won the Man Booker International Prize. He also has been mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was born in Albania and went to University in Tirana, Albania. He attended the Gorky Institute for World Literature, a school for writers and critics in Moscow. Because of governmental disapproval of his books and other writings, he asked for and was granted asylum in 1990 in France. At first, I believed I was reading only a historical fiction novel about the culture of Albania that existed long ago in the past, and later, as I progressed deeper into the story of 'Broken April', I thought maybe it was also a symbolic folktale of Albania because of the novel's literary architecture. No. The story is not only those things. Instead, I learned that Kadare's story about the early 20th-century Albanian mountain and village people of the past is a real-life culture of people who still live outside of the legal governmental framework of Albania as if they were in the midst of the Middle Ages and not part of the 21st century. I read that 'Broken April' takes place between the World Wars, but it is difficult for me to believe that. The people of the Albanian plateaus live like people of the 13th century, in my opinion. The protagonists travel by horse and carriage, horseback and of course, on foot. However, on page 35, Gjorg Berisha, one of the main characters, sees an airplane in the sky flying overhead, and knows what it is. Amazing. I am still in shock by this story. https://www.theguardian.com/world/201... http://www.spiegel.de/international/w... Wikipedia link to a description and history of the Kanun: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanun... Here is a link to an interview with the author: http://pajtimi.com/faqebrenda.php?new... The American version of a blood feud: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatfi...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Set in the interwar years, this haunting novel tells of an Albanian blood feud: Gyakmarrja, as it affects several people: Gjorg [George], the unwilling killer of his murdered brother's killer; Bessian and Diana, a honeymooning couple who want to see the mountain area of Albania and to investigate the customs firsthand; and Mark, the "steward of the blood" [He collects what is called a "blood-tax" from a murderer's family and maintains Book of the Blood, giving details of every blood feud going b Set in the interwar years, this haunting novel tells of an Albanian blood feud: Gyakmarrja, as it affects several people: Gjorg [George], the unwilling killer of his murdered brother's killer; Bessian and Diana, a honeymooning couple who want to see the mountain area of Albania and to investigate the customs firsthand; and Mark, the "steward of the blood" [He collects what is called a "blood-tax" from a murderer's family and maintains Book of the Blood, giving details of every blood feud going back centuries]. Gjorg has a grace period or truce: bessa of thirty days before he becomes fair game for the bullet of his victim's family. Should a member of the victim's family kill Gjorg, this will restore their honor. Gjorg's story was the most fascinating--the murder, what he does in his time of reprieve, and his final shocking though inevitable fate. I felt Bessian was only a mouthpiece to explain the Kanun, the rigid set of laws governing every aspect of life and death of the mountain folk. Diana represented an outsider's view of the culture and Mark represented officialdom upholding the Kanun. This was a glimpse into a violent, brutal culture. Remote Albania still lives under its tenets in the present. The simple, unvarnished style made it readable in a short time for me. This dark short novel is a good introduction to Kadare. Dec. 27, 2014--I've recently viewed "Beneath the sun", a 2001 Brazilian movie with setting changed from Albania [the novel] to rural Brazil, but with the same theme of blood feud. I did reread the novel and it was just as good the second time.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Jings. Just about the most depressing book I have ever read: powerful, bleak and timeless. It's sometime in post-Ottoman, pre-Hoxha Albania and a blood feud is playing itself out through the eyes of a young mountaineer, who is hopelessly caught in the game, while a couple of urban honeymooners are rubbernecking their way around the High Plateau. Then it gets a bit Passage to India as done by Kafka. And it's drizzling in the grey mountains, where the widow in black sits by the road above the vill Jings. Just about the most depressing book I have ever read: powerful, bleak and timeless. It's sometime in post-Ottoman, pre-Hoxha Albania and a blood feud is playing itself out through the eyes of a young mountaineer, who is hopelessly caught in the game, while a couple of urban honeymooners are rubbernecking their way around the High Plateau. Then it gets a bit Passage to India as done by Kafka. And it's drizzling in the grey mountains, where the widow in black sits by the road above the village where all the men are hiding in towers. REREAD: A year later, now in Albania, and with a year 11 class as a class text. We haven't had time to do it in much depth but I at least have had a deeper plunge into it, and frankly, it's a towering thing. Truly great European literature with rich, layered images and subtle, devastating truths. Not all of Kadare is like this, and so far in my reading this is by far the best. REREAD, AGAIN: and again with a class, this time in more depth. I'm still blown away. This time I particularly found Mark Ukacierra to be interesting.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Xandra

    I’m happy to say that my first contact with Albanian literature has been a success. I had no idea what to expect since I didn’t know anything about the plot, or Kadare, or, as a matter of fact, Albania. I thought I saw an Albanian movie once, but I just checked and it’s actually a Serbian film [not the Serbian film, if you know what I mean, I hope you don’t, don’t google it!]. Anyway, the story begins with a man lying behind a ridge, freezing his butt off, a rifle in his hands, waiting for some I’m happy to say that my first contact with Albanian literature has been a success. I had no idea what to expect since I didn’t know anything about the plot, or Kadare, or, as a matter of fact, Albania. I thought I saw an Albanian movie once, but I just checked and it’s actually a Serbian film [not the Serbian film, if you know what I mean, I hope you don’t, don’t google it!]. Anyway, the story begins with a man lying behind a ridge, freezing his butt off, a rifle in his hands, waiting for some guy to show up so he can put a bullet in his head. He finishes the job, goes home, and it soon becomes clear that his family is involved in a blood feud with very strict rules, a practice that appears to be common in the Northern part of Albania where he lives. The government has no authority over the population in the area, the laws of the state are rejected, and the region is under the jurisdiction of an ancient social code called the Kanun which is basically a “constitution of death” that endorses blood vengeance. At this point, I genuinely thought I was reading dystopian fiction, but listen to this: the Kanun is an actual, published set of laws whose influence, although much diminished, still leads to killings in modern-day Albania. Wikipedia says that “In 2014 about 3,000 Albanian families were estimated to be involved in blood feuds and this since the fall of Communism has led to the deaths of 10,000 people.” This is according to an estimate by a large Albanian non-profit organization that states that 10447 people have been killed in blood feuds since the fall of Communism in the early 1990s and claims that more than 1000 families were in isolation in 2012 as a result of blood feuds. The organization was, however, accused of corruption and the statistics they claim are most likely exaggerated. Blood feuds still exist, but local prosecutors offer lower numbers that are seemingly more accurate. [more on this here and here] In any case, the Kanun isn’t a figment of Kadare’s imagination and I’ll have to look somewhere else for dystopian fiction. It isn’t explicitly mentioned when the story takes place, but it can be assumed that it’s sometime in the 20th century. Most of the book concerns itself with explaining the workings of the Kanun through the changing perspective of a few characters and the story is tinged with a measure of absurdism and surrealism that establish a faint resemblance to Kafka (notably in the segment following Gjorg’s trip to the castle to pay the blood tax). Obviously, Broken April has little in common with the Albania of today, but it offers a glimpse of a specific aspect of its past and easily takes the cake for the most fascinating book I’ve read this year.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tara Newton

    A visceral breakdown of emotions. A darkness of souls. A terrific relationship between the eye and the world. Beautiful climax. A film.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    This is a beautifully written, bleak and haunting novel, set between the wars in the mountains of northern Albania. It is very short and I read it in a day. The story centres on a family caught up in the blood feuds of this region, which sadly still exist, according to recent newspaper reports. The book centres on a complicated etiquette of death included in the Kanun, a set of traditional laws. After one man kills to avenge an insult, a duty of revenge continues until all the men of a household This is a beautifully written, bleak and haunting novel, set between the wars in the mountains of northern Albania. It is very short and I read it in a day. The story centres on a family caught up in the blood feuds of this region, which sadly still exist, according to recent newspaper reports. The book centres on a complicated etiquette of death included in the Kanun, a set of traditional laws. After one man kills to avenge an insult, a duty of revenge continues until all the men of a household are either dead or sheltering in towers of sanctuary, unable to go out during daylight. Gjorg, the central character, is put under pressure by his family to kill the man who killed his brother - but, after carrying out the killing, he knows his own life is likely to be forfeit. He has just 30 days to live during a stay of execution (also laid down in the laws), before the family of his victim will in turn come after him. Can he escape, or is he in effect a dead man walking? As Gjorg struggles to come to terms with his probable fate, the book also features a honeymooning couple who come to visit the area, travelling in a dark carriage. The bridegroom, a writer, is fascinated by the blood feud culture, and sees it as material for future work, but his bride is understandably horrified. Through these characters, I get the impression that the author is wrestling with his own reasons for writing about the blood feuds and expressing some of his conflicting feelings. Lastly, I'm sorry not to know who the translator was (the title page just says that it was translated from the Albanian, presumably in-house by the publisher), because the prose style is great.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Felix

    The Albanian highlands are a gloomy place where hard-nosed and hard-scrabble peasants eke out a precarious living farming corn. Even the mountain fairies in their tales seem to be hard-nosed and hard-scrabble. What glamour there is in the peasants' lives derives from their participation in self-perpetuating blood-feuds, regulated (like everything else) by the ancient set of oral laws known as the Kanun. What sort of person goes there on his honeymoon? A fool, if you ask me. A somewhat romantic fo The Albanian highlands are a gloomy place where hard-nosed and hard-scrabble peasants eke out a precarious living farming corn. Even the mountain fairies in their tales seem to be hard-nosed and hard-scrabble. What glamour there is in the peasants' lives derives from their participation in self-perpetuating blood-feuds, regulated (like everything else) by the ancient set of oral laws known as the Kanun. What sort of person goes there on his honeymoon? A fool, if you ask me. A somewhat romantic fool, perhaps - I will grant you that - but a fool nevertheless. Bessian is a fashionable writer from Tirana, the capital of Albania. He has made his name by works in which he waxed lyrical about the highlands, the peasants, and the Kanun. But he has never actually been there. So he takes his young, beautiful, and impressionable wife Diana to the highlands on their honeymoon-cum-research-trip. Predictably, nothing good comes out of it. At a late point in the novel, Bessian somewhat casually drops the name of Marx. It is not clear whether he has actually read or understood him, but in my opinion, he would have done far better by himself to attend carefully to Nietzsche's famous dictum "If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you".

  12. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    The version I read was in English. It was a translation of the French translation of the original Albanian. I feel that the story has not suffered because of this double translation. This haunting tale, which revolves around the Law of Lek, the codification of feuding in traditional Albania, is brief but brilliant. As in his other works, Ismail Kadare captures a great deal with a few words. Read this and anything else by this author.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bikki

    I realize that I should like this book - lots of people like this book. I read the ending twice and it just didn't happen. I didn't like the ending, although I can grasp the "poeticness" (yes, I just made up that word) of it. I struggled with the story, with a story line that was intriguing, but bloody. It was just a painful read all the way around and I pushed myself to get through this relatively short book. I wouldn't recommend it and maybe after we discuss it at book club I will appreciate i I realize that I should like this book - lots of people like this book. I read the ending twice and it just didn't happen. I didn't like the ending, although I can grasp the "poeticness" (yes, I just made up that word) of it. I struggled with the story, with a story line that was intriguing, but bloody. It was just a painful read all the way around and I pushed myself to get through this relatively short book. I wouldn't recommend it and maybe after we discuss it at book club I will appreciate it more, but right now it just isn't happening for me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    In "Broken April", Ismael Kadare, Albania's best-known writer, focuses on the blood feud traditions of his country's uplands. The Albanian blood feud is far beyond the angry impulse that compels even the studious Hamlet to revenge his father; instead, its rituals are laid down in the law that governs this part of Albania. The intent of the law is to regulate the blood feud, to channel it in a way that keeps it from raging out of control, but the practical effect is to create a landscape of night In "Broken April", Ismael Kadare, Albania's best-known writer, focuses on the blood feud traditions of his country's uplands. The Albanian blood feud is far beyond the angry impulse that compels even the studious Hamlet to revenge his father; instead, its rituals are laid down in the law that governs this part of Albania. The intent of the law is to regulate the blood feud, to channel it in a way that keeps it from raging out of control, but the practical effect is to create a landscape of nightmare. Dead men's shirts are hung from their houses to remind living relatives that they are waiting for vengeance. The first act of the killers is to request temporary truces from the families of their victims. The revengers pay a tax for their murder. People who have committed revenge killings hide out together in towers dedicated to that purpose. A stranger murdered on a family's property draws its members into a fate of endless blood revenge until its men are all dead. This all sounds like the middle ages gone mad, but the novel set in the thirties. Kadare starts the novel with a man who almost against his will continues the blood feud by committing a revenge murder that he knows will require the victim's family to kill him. Then Kadare shifts to a young married couple on honeymoon--the husband has a romantic view of these customs as folklore. The naive anthropologist as resident fool can be found elsewhere in Kadare's work, but the wife who plays a pivotal and not fully explained role, all without really coming to life except to ask questions of her husband and wander mysteriously. The novel is strongest when it stays with the doomed mountaineers; by inserting the young couple whose idea of a honeymoon is to travel uncomfortably in a carriage through this nightmare, Kadare strains credibility, dissipates tension, explain without explaining, and deprives what should be a tragedy of the power it needs to become one.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brenda C Kayne

    An amazing work of fiction that explains a dismal, distressing, oppressive, and highly ritualized code of revenge in an obscure area of Albania. Much to my dismay, this code of revenge is fact. (I googled it.) Perhaps this is Kadare's point. The book, hands down, is my favorite "dark" book because it so explictly depicts the karmic absurdity of revenge. One wonders if revenge is actually a natural response or perhaps a form of defensive behavior gone wrong. At any rate, our desires for revenge de An amazing work of fiction that explains a dismal, distressing, oppressive, and highly ritualized code of revenge in an obscure area of Albania. Much to my dismay, this code of revenge is fact. (I googled it.) Perhaps this is Kadare's point. The book, hands down, is my favorite "dark" book because it so explictly depicts the karmic absurdity of revenge. One wonders if revenge is actually a natural response or perhaps a form of defensive behavior gone wrong. At any rate, our desires for revenge deserve analysis after any horrible act so that at least there might be conversation on how they might be satisfied in some productive, creative way. I am not one who supports the concept of "proportionate response". And although turning the other cheek seems equally absurd, I think there is more to it than that. It seems a code is born when there is no turning back, no analysis (or perhaps an analysis that is given up on); there is only perpetual repetition of deed. Maybe over the course of time when enough change surrounding a code of revenge occurs, the code dissipates such as with the Hatfields and McCoys. This books shares a lot with Lorca's play, "Blood Wedding". What I find interesting in both book and play, is how much the code is perpetuated by the women, who in the traditional stance of motherhood and nurturance, maintain and encourage a code of revenge within their troubled communities.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I absolutely loved this book-- a well-written bittersweet love story that is set in Albania. The novel really explores the lifestyle of those who lived on the high plateaus of the country in the early 20th century and their code of ethics, (namely the never-ending blood feuds that allow a death for a death, with family constantly having to sacrifice one of their own).

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris Blocker

    Last year, I made a goal of “reading around the world,” an effort to read at least one book from every country. I'm not working down the list regionally or alphabetically. I'm not oversaturating my reading list all at once with these titles. I'm just making a conscious effort to explore the world through books as I'm able. Broken April is perhaps the most eye-opening view of a world I knew nothing about. Set in mountains of Albania, Broken April is the story of a man bound to an extremely strict Last year, I made a goal of “reading around the world,” an effort to read at least one book from every country. I'm not working down the list regionally or alphabetically. I'm not oversaturating my reading list all at once with these titles. I'm just making a conscious effort to explore the world through books as I'm able. Broken April is perhaps the most eye-opening view of a world I knew nothing about. Set in mountains of Albania, Broken April is the story of a man bound to an extremely strict set of rules called the Kanun. The Kanun is a “code of conduct” that focuses on honor and hospitality, dictating the everyday actions of a person. It makes the American west of the 1800s seem very tame, the Levitical law lenient. Once one has become ensnared by the rules of the Kanun, there is no escape. Initially, I imagined that these rules were a product of the author's imagination. If nothing else, they had to have been exaggerated. No group of people would willingly live under such rigorous regulations century upon century. Sadly, they're all true. Though I hate to knock on the beliefs and cultures of another group, these rules are ridiculous and very dangerous. It's a wonder that those who subscribe to the Kanun as a rule for life have not gone extinct by now. As far as a novel goes, Broken April is a bit uneven. When the story focuses on Gjorg, it is riveting and breathtaking. I felt his anxiety. He is a marked man and though the reader must know it's impossible for him to escape, you hope there is a way. Also, I was enraptured with Diana, a newlywed who does not live under the Kanun, but who is similarly held captive by the authority of her husband. But the novel spends far too much time on the boring, ridiculous Bessian and on characters such as Mark, who merely provided a different visual perspective. Without these interruptions, I likely would've made my way through this novel in very little time; unfortunately, I felt too much of what Diana must've felt: God, I wish Bessian would just shut up. There is a haunting atmosphere to Broken April, especially as we follow Gjorg around. It reminds me of John Steinbeck's time in Mexico. There is a similarity in theme and setting to both “Flight” and The Pearl, though there is a feeling of timelessness in Broken April. It is this timelessness, this sense that these rules will continue until everyone is finally dead, that give this novel its most grievous quality.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    Haunting and powerful novel set in the remote mountains of Albania. Gjorg has killed the murderer of his brother, in accordance with the Kanun an ancient and complex code that governs the lives of the mountain people. He is subject to a truce of thirty days, and then can be killed in his turn. This is how the blood feud continues between the families involved. Bessian, a writer, and his wife Diana are visiting the area on honeymoon. They briefly encounter Gjorg, and the impact of this passing m Haunting and powerful novel set in the remote mountains of Albania. Gjorg has killed the murderer of his brother, in accordance with the Kanun an ancient and complex code that governs the lives of the mountain people. He is subject to a truce of thirty days, and then can be killed in his turn. This is how the blood feud continues between the families involved. Bessian, a writer, and his wife Diana are visiting the area on honeymoon. They briefly encounter Gjorg, and the impact of this passing moment affects all three in unexpected ways. This novel explores the conflicting views of the protagonists about the blood feud. Bessian has a romanticised view of it as an honourable and noble thing, while for Gjorg it is just something he has accepted as an inevitable part of his life. Both of them find their view challenged by later events, and by the ambiguous presence of Diana. The book is beautifully written, and is one I feel I could read again and again.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I read my first Ismail Kadare novel, Broken April, for the Albania stop of my Around the World in Eighty Books challenge. I've wanted to read his work for quite a while, and am pleased to report that I was entirely swept away with this novel, so much so that the extended review which I was planning to write went out of the window rather early on. The translation here is smooth and accessible, and the writing is often quite beautiful in an understated way. Broken April is filled with fascinating I read my first Ismail Kadare novel, Broken April, for the Albania stop of my Around the World in Eighty Books challenge. I've wanted to read his work for quite a while, and am pleased to report that I was entirely swept away with this novel, so much so that the extended review which I was planning to write went out of the window rather early on. The translation here is smooth and accessible, and the writing is often quite beautiful in an understated way. Broken April is filled with fascinating and archaic Albanian customs, and is well worth picking up.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Dixon

    This is not a book intended to make the reader comfortable.The funeral took place the next day around noon. the professional mourners came from afar, clawing their faces and tearing their hair according to the custom. . . . Gjorg, too, walked in the procvession. At first he had refused to take part in the ceremony, but at last he had given in to his father's urging. . . . "But I am the Gjaks," Gjorg had protested. "I'm the one who killed him. Why must I go?"It's inconceivable, isn't it? A murder This is not a book intended to make the reader comfortable.The funeral took place the next day around noon. the professional mourners came from afar, clawing their faces and tearing their hair according to the custom. . . . Gjorg, too, walked in the procvession. At first he had refused to take part in the ceremony, but at last he had given in to his father's urging. . . . "But I am the Gjaks," Gjorg had protested. "I'm the one who killed him. Why must I go?"It's inconceivable, isn't it? A murderer must, by custom, attend the funeral, walk in the procession, and share in the funeral dinner at the house of the man he killed! This gloomy novel is set in the early years of the 20th century. Focusing on Gjorg, caught in the relentless cycle of retaliatory killing, and newlyweds Bessian and Diana, who are exploring the Albanian High Plateau on their honeymoon, it reveals and 'explains' the blood feud system entrenched in the lives of the people. The dreadful waste of human life, and the 'feudal lord's' economic reliance on its continuance, is told so sadly. At least, however, there were clearly delineated rules. Nowadays, it appears, the blood feud is still very much a way of life (see this June 2014 article), but the practice has degenerated. As the author himself says (see this interview):I think blood feud nowadays in Albania is explained as a reaction towards the strict prohibition of Kanun, set by law during communism; Kanun was taken as a “good custom” that should be revived. But it is a custom that shouldn’t be revived. What is happening is not related to the Albanian Kanun and is very barbarian: it is done with kallashnikov.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    "In no other country in the world can one see people on the road who bear the mark of death, like trees marked for felling." Already I've forgotten much of Broken April -- I really should review books within a few days of finishing. I do have a vivid recollection of reading a few chapters of it in the botanical garden, under the most lovely tree which an art student -- who'd also noticed the tree's loveliness-- was sketching. Not long before that day, I'd gotten sucked into a particularly deep "In no other country in the world can one see people on the road who bear the mark of death, like trees marked for felling." Already I've forgotten much of Broken April -- I really should review books within a few days of finishing. I do have a vivid recollection of reading a few chapters of it in the botanical garden, under the most lovely tree which an art student -- who'd also noticed the tree's loveliness-- was sketching. Not long before that day, I'd gotten sucked into a particularly deep wikipedia rabbit hole on feuds. The section on Albania's unique and still-kicking tradition of blood feuds reminded me that I fortuitously already had a book on my to-be-read shelf that dealt with the theme. As a bonus, it was by an author from a country whose literature I was as of yet unacquainted with. The novel opens from the point of view of 26-year-old mountaineer Gjorg, already deeply entangled in his family's blood feud. After killing the man he was after, he has a month of relative peace to live until the truce expires and its open season once again. He realizes life as he knows it is over, and he'll either be killed or have to stay hidden and afraid for the rest of his existence. There's an inevitability to it all, a lack of choice. The feeling that he must do what he must do, regardless of what he wants or thinks personally. The blood feud is no longer about hot-blooded rage or vengeance-- it's passionless, preordained, a sequence of events that must be completed as part of a larger ritual or cycle. There's even a blood tax to pay. I felt more spellbound when we inhabited Gjorg's world and perspective. The introduction of Bessian and Diana, newlyweds from the capital, jarred me a little. Bessian is a court writer who's fascinated by the mountaineers' way of life and adherence to the Kanun (traditional Albanian law that also encompasses the rules of the blood feud) and is inclined to think romantically and wax poetically about it all. To him, as to the readers, the mountaineers are an almost mythic people, inhabiting their stone kullas in a desolate landscape, bound unquestionably to the arcane strictures of the Kanun. Brushed as the couple is with the advance of 20th century modernity, this remote part of the country, still steeped in ancient ritual, is as foreign to them as it is to us. The Kanun is unforgiving and cruel. It proclaims that a wedding must go on, even if if the bride is dying, and a "trousseau bullet" is to be given to the groom so he can kill his wife if she ever leaves him. It upholds the sacredness of hospitality, to the extreme extent that you are bound to avenge a guest, so that there's a risk of getting caught up in an intergenerational blood feud every time you give a stranger a place to sleep. The harshness of this code, bewildering in a modern context but not so different from any ancient or medieval system, makes you wonder what it is about humans that has allowed and continues to allow us to collectively agree on and support laws that could backfire so spectacularly on any individual; to construct and then follow rules that constrain to the point of suffocation. Perhaps an aversion to disorder and lack of structure so deep that signing away certain freedoms becomes desirable, if only there is a rulebook to follow and hang onto through chaos and uncertainty? The belief it will most likely never be applied to you, while the group benefits as a whole from its formulation? I'm not sure Kadare has helped me understand it, but this book, pleasantly unusual and atmospheric, did raise the question in my mind.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nick Davies

    This was a bit of a punt - bought from a charity shop in a mood of wanting to buy a handful of short but interesting-looking novels to provide a bit more variety to my TBR shelf (getting a bit clogged up with crime fiction and dense non-fiction) I had little pre-expectations. It turned out to be a serendipitous choice. The main appeal was the absorbing otherworldly nature - the story follows a young man in northern Albania journeying after a blood feud, a writer and his wife travelling in the ar This was a bit of a punt - bought from a charity shop in a mood of wanting to buy a handful of short but interesting-looking novels to provide a bit more variety to my TBR shelf (getting a bit clogged up with crime fiction and dense non-fiction) I had little pre-expectations. It turned out to be a serendipitous choice. The main appeal was the absorbing otherworldly nature - the story follows a young man in northern Albania journeying after a blood feud, a writer and his wife travelling in the area on honeymoon, and associated characters connected with their journeys. There is a powerful sense of place, and an intriguing contextualisation as the situation is placed within the complex rules and customs of the area. There’s a lot of thought-provoking aspects regarding morality and mortality, the rules governing their society fascinating and complex. My only criticism was the ending, which seemed slightly... um...rushed? Unresolved? Unsatisfying at least.

  23. 5 out of 5

    George Rife

    Broken April is a remarkable novel by what some call the greatest Albanian writer. I know you're thinking that's probably a pretty low bar, but still I enjoyed his writing style a very great deal- it's a spare unpretentious style that suits me well- I much prefer a writer who can say a great deal with a minimum of words. It's a dark story but also a short one, so it shouldn't get you down too much. Just three main characters, two of which are a married couple who briefly meet the 3rd character, Broken April is a remarkable novel by what some call the greatest Albanian writer. I know you're thinking that's probably a pretty low bar, but still I enjoyed his writing style a very great deal- it's a spare unpretentious style that suits me well- I much prefer a writer who can say a great deal with a minimum of words. It's a dark story but also a short one, so it shouldn't get you down too much. Just three main characters, two of which are a married couple who briefly meet the 3rd character, a young "mountaineer" (man from the highlands of Albania) whose life is at a crisis point. All my friends who've read this rated it 4 or 5 stars. It has about 2000 ratings on Goodreads, and deserves to have about 10x that many. BTW, it's listed in "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die".

  24. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Gjorg Berisha is 26 year 0ld Albanian mountaineer, forced to avenge his brother's death according to Kanun law, a very strict and complicated feudal code of Law. The story opens with him killing a member of the family that killed his brother. Gjorg is given a 30 day grace period before his victim's family can murder him. Bessian Vorpsi and his wife Diana are on their honeymoon trip to the mountains. Bessian is fascinated with the highland people that practice the Blood Feud. While on the journey Gjorg Berisha is 26 year 0ld Albanian mountaineer, forced to avenge his brother's death according to Kanun law, a very strict and complicated feudal code of Law. The story opens with him killing a member of the family that killed his brother. Gjorg is given a 30 day grace period before his victim's family can murder him. Bessian Vorpsi and his wife Diana are on their honeymoon trip to the mountains. Bessian is fascinated with the highland people that practice the Blood Feud. While on the journey to the mountains, Bessian explains to Diana the intricacies of the Kanun, he points out mountaineers with the blood feud ribbon, the refuge towers (where murderers can find refuge for as long as needed from their victims families), and they run into a Kanun judge who travels all over the mountains sitting in judgement over disputes. For one brief moment Gjorg and the Vorpsi lives intersect. This is the fourth book I have read by Kadare, and to be honest, Chronicle in Stone is still my favorite of the four.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Farhan Khalid

    GJORG This was the fateful day in his life It was the second time in his life that he had lain in wait to take revenge But the man he must kill was the same one His family had had great trouble paying the fine for the first wound, and a second fine would ruin them But there was no penalty for death He felt as if his name had quitted his body, his chest, his skin, to pour itself cruelly outside The messengers of death spread that name everywhere He felt that from now on the lives of all the generations t GJORG This was the fateful day in his life It was the second time in his life that he had lain in wait to take revenge But the man he must kill was the same one His family had had great trouble paying the fine for the first wound, and a second fine would ruin them But there was no penalty for death He felt as if his name had quitted his body, his chest, his skin, to pour itself cruelly outside The messengers of death spread that name everywhere He felt that from now on the lives of all the generations to come in the two families would be an endless funeral feast Thirty days, he said to himself From now on, April would be tinged with a bluish pain . . . Half a March and half an April, like two broken branches glittering with frost What would he do in the thirty days left to him? At first it seemed a brief time, too brief, a handful of days too few for anything But a few minutes later this same respite seemed horribly long and absolutely useless At a distance, like everything on that day of mists, mountaineers looked anonymous and unsubstantial The Kanun was stronger than it seemed Its power reached everywhere, covering lands, the boundaries of fields The world was divided into two parts: The one that fell under the blood-law, and the other that was outside that law His movements, his face, and specially his eyes, suggested the calm of a man without illusions Penalties came thronging to his imagination The world shone like glass, and with a kind of crystal madness It might begin to slip any moment and shatter into thousands of fragment The whole world was stained with blood Kanun: Two fingers-breadth of honor have been stamped on out forehead by Almighty God He touched his forehead to find the exact place where his honor might be He said: More blood must flow Life seemed to mark time A small red stain took shape in the heart of that endless white BESSIAN AND DIANA It's beautiful and terrible at the same time We are entering the shadow-land The place where the laws of death prevails over the laws of life Like all great things, the Kanun is beyond good and evil The Kanun is universal Divinity, destiny, fatality. They are all fine things, but they are frightening Mountaineer: Everything is possible for us , there is one thing that is forbidden, and that is to lift the lid of the pot on the fire It's in the logic of things that every great idea has a flaw that does not diminish it but brings it more within our reach Now sleep spread before her imagination Many mornings must have been condensed in that bit of grey lights DIANA THINKING ABOUT GJORG So pale he was — chosen by death And that was what his eyes had said, fixed on hers: I am here only for a short time, foreign woman GJORG The movement of time seemed very strange to him Up to a certain hour, the day seemed endless to him Well, here's April BESSIAN AND DIANA Doctor: I count the wounds, classify them, and do nothing else Blood has been turned into merchandise Bessian: your books, your art, they all smell of murder GJORG Leaving time, he said to himself It seemed strange that someone could leave his time BESSIAN The squeaking of the carriage wheels were appropriate music for his doubts, his conjectures, his remorse GJORG The truce was over and he had entered into another time The time beyond the Bessa? Eternal time, that was no longer his, without days, without seasons, without years, without a future, abstract time. The mountains were receding ever more slowly, sinking back into solitude

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    As I started this book I knew it was set in an Albania earlier in the 20th century yet was so intrigued by the idea of communities having ritualistic blood feuds in which a killing leads to families, generation by generation, killing members of the other clan, each murder triggering a revenge killing of an individual yet the whole thing being governed by rules that are centuries old and are abided by , that I searched on line the word 'Kanun' and found that even in the last 10 years there are re As I started this book I knew it was set in an Albania earlier in the 20th century yet was so intrigued by the idea of communities having ritualistic blood feuds in which a killing leads to families, generation by generation, killing members of the other clan, each murder triggering a revenge killing of an individual yet the whole thing being governed by rules that are centuries old and are abided by , that I searched on line the word 'Kanun' and found that even in the last 10 years there are reports of it continuing. If it wasn't so horrific the manner in which the story is written and the ritualism of it is almost hypnotically beautiful (probably the wrong expression). The plot centres around Gjorg who at the begining is about to kill a member of another family in retribution for the murder of his brother in a chain that has gone back generations. After the killing according to tradition he is given 30 days amnesty before the bereaved family can kill him. He wanders around the vast plteau of the Albanian countryside after he has visited the manor to pay the Prince the blood money fee. At the same time a writer from the capital Tirana and his beautiful fiancee are travelling the plateau in a carriage visiting inns and the countryside but the writer Bessian is obsessed with Kanun and its rituals in an anthropological manner to the point that it is creating an issue in the days old marriage. Bessian , his wife and Gjorj have a very fleeting encounter but the wife Diana becomes obsessed with Gjorj and his fate as does Gjorj with this chance sight of beauty. I won't say more but I found the writing compelling, it was gothic in its feel having a sense of the mists and doom of say a 19th cetury gothic horror, yet poetically describes the beauty of the rituals and the countryside. The feeling that the reader is immersed in the journey of Gjorj is also countered with a feeling of observing something from a distance with a sense of an inevitable ending.I am still amazed by the tradition itself and the book was interesting purely on the basis of a picture of such a strange culture. Suffice to say this was an excellent read and makes me want to read more by Kadare.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    My daughter gave me the English translation of this novel and another one by Ismail Kadaré for Christmas and it immediately got placed in the stack of other books waiting to be read. After visiting her in Albania recently, I became so intrigued by the country and its people that I bought another book by him while I was there and moved this book to the top of the pile. The Albanians I encountered during my stay there were warm, friendly and helpful and I enjoyed being able to walk about freely, n My daughter gave me the English translation of this novel and another one by Ismail Kadaré for Christmas and it immediately got placed in the stack of other books waiting to be read. After visiting her in Albania recently, I became so intrigued by the country and its people that I bought another book by him while I was there and moved this book to the top of the pile. The Albanians I encountered during my stay there were warm, friendly and helpful and I enjoyed being able to walk about freely, never once worrying about crime or being lost in a country that I did not speak the language of. While there I also noticed that in a predominately Muslim country, there seemed to be a harmony between the people and religions that is not so evident in the US. When I commented on this, I was told that discord and hatred there was not racial or religiously motivated, but rather between individual Albanian families that hated other families because of some historical transgression and maintained ongoing feuds. "Broken April" takes place during the early 20th Century and revolves around Gjorg, a highlander and the young honeymooning couple he chances to encounter during their travels. Gjorg, continuing a long-running feud with another family, avenges the death of his brother and begins the 30 day grace period which is granted to the killer before the other family can seek its own revenge. A custom that can only seem to end with the extinction of both families? We learn much about the Kanun, the customary Albanian law, from Bessian as he educates his new bride, Diana during their journey. Strong characters, well written. The translation is beautifully done and I sure the original work by Mr. Kadaré is just as moving and powerful.

  28. 4 out of 5

    R.A. Schneider

    After spending 7 days in Albania with my brother, I wanted (needed?) to understand this odd culture a little better. Specifically, what's up with the whole "blood feud" thing? Kadare's brief novel very cleverly and delicately weaves together two very different stories of commitment and conformity to the norms of Albanian society. Gjorg must enact his part in a long standing chain of revenge between his family and the Kruyqeqe family. Meanwhile, city girl (?Name?) travels with her new husband/auth After spending 7 days in Albania with my brother, I wanted (needed?) to understand this odd culture a little better. Specifically, what's up with the whole "blood feud" thing? Kadare's brief novel very cleverly and delicately weaves together two very different stories of commitment and conformity to the norms of Albanian society. Gjorg must enact his part in a long standing chain of revenge between his family and the Kruyqeqe family. Meanwhile, city girl (?Name?) travels with her new husband/author, through the "Accursed Mountains" of Northern Albania on her "honeymoon." The protagonists lives barely intertwine, almost as a pretense to have the parties encounter different elements of the Albanian "Kanun" (canon law), its interpreters, its beneficiaries and its victims. So, while the plot and story are solid, the real value for me is a bit of a voyeuristic tour of forbidden, exotic lands and ideas. "Broken April" is a bit of a "Cliff Notes" on a small portion of the "Kanun of Leke Dukagjinit," the most well known codification of this 500-1000 year old set of social customs and expectations. On the bright side, the Kanun insists on the "guest and God" being the primary concern in a man's house. On the downside, it lists a bazillion ways you must exact revenge if your honor is in any way slighted, with the ultimate penalty being blood for blood vengeance, enacted with VERY limited options for terminating the feud. I fear my personal connection to the country, my recent visit, and my generally morbid/obsessive fascination with moral codes may have led me to rate this book higher than it deserves, so please take your reading of it with that grain of salt.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bettie☯

    BROKEN APRIL 186046503x 9781860465031 Albania paperback spring 2012 pub 1978 translation (by whom is not stated) revenge tbr busting 2012 History Lifestyles Families Filthy Lucre Pronounciation guide Opening: His feet were cold, and each time he moved his numbed legs a little he heard the desolate grating of pebbles under his shoes. But the sense of desolation was really inside him. p.19 - Then April will come, or rather the first half of it. Gjorg felt an emptiness in the left side of his chest. From now on BROKEN APRIL 186046503x 9781860465031 Albania paperback spring 2012 pub 1978 translation (by whom is not stated) revenge tbr busting 2012 History Lifestyles Families Filthy Lucre Pronounciation guide Opening: His feet were cold, and each time he moved his numbed legs a little he heard the desolate grating of pebbles under his shoes. But the sense of desolation was really inside him. p.19 - Then April will come, or rather the first half of it. Gjorg felt an emptiness in the left side of his chest. From now on April would be tinged with a bluish pain... Yes, that was how April had always seemed to him - a month with something incomplete about it. April love, as the songs said. His own unfinished April. p.111 - In houses that have a death to avenge they hang up the victim's bloodstained shirt at a corner of the tower, and they do not take it down until the blood has been redeemed. Can you imagine how terrible that must be? Hamlet saw his father's ghost two or three times, at midnight, and for only a few moments, while the shirt that calls for vengeance in our kullas stays there night and day, for whole months and seasons. Hah - who knew that blood feuds were not rampaging potshot affairs? There are Codes and Rules to adhere to under Kanun etiquette. A between the wars eye-opener and blood-chiller explaining the Albanian lifestyle whilst thinly couched as a novel. Maybe a little look into King Zog is called for... Finished 19/4/2012 4*

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristel

    A story of a young man who lives in the high plateau of Albania under the rule of Kanun. This was a very interesting tale of a culture and a mores that operated under an economy of blood. The prose is very good and the story compelling. The first part starts out with Gjorg and his fulfilling the Kunan as intrusted by his father to avenge his brother's death, then he has to pay the blood tax and he has 30 days before he can be killed by the avenging family of the man he has killed. The next secti A story of a young man who lives in the high plateau of Albania under the rule of Kanun. This was a very interesting tale of a culture and a mores that operated under an economy of blood. The prose is very good and the story compelling. The first part starts out with Gjorg and his fulfilling the Kunan as intrusted by his father to avenge his brother's death, then he has to pay the blood tax and he has 30 days before he can be killed by the avenging family of the man he has killed. The next section involves a husband and wife on a honeymoon trip to the high plateau where the husband tells his wife all about the Kunan. She becomes more and more withdrawn. The next section involves the steward of the blood. I found it very interesting that this rule allowed the fields to be fallow while the hunted men hide. It also explains the economy of the blood compared to the taxes on crops. Then it switches back to the husband and wife and finally back to Gjorg who has stayed gone too long and the 30 day truce has expired at noon. One of the truly great reads on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

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