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The Concert

448 pages

In Enver Hoxha's Albania, news was closely guarded and speculation forever rife. When an engineer stepped on the foot of a visiting Chinese man, a Diplomatic incident resulted, and couriers between Tirana and Beijing carried back and forth annotated X-rays of The Foot. Was the sudden tension between the two allies connected with the punishment meted out to a group of Albanian tank officers? Were Comrades Enver and Mao still in step on the sovereign role of the Party?

The brittle nature of political realities is epitomised in a Gala Concert in Beijing. A hand-picked audience of diplomats and party officials see destiny for the fragile beast it is when, surveying the Politburo boxes, they notice to their horror an Empty Chair.

Kadare - the author of 'one of the most complete visions of totalitarianism ever committed to paper' (Vanity Fair) - has penned a glimpse inside a seething melting pot of rumour and reputation, as the morning's orthodoxies become heresies by dinner time and the Sino-Albanian axis finally comes adrift.

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The Concert