Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

February Books 1) Azem Berisha's One and Only Flight to the Castle

1) Azem Berisha's One and Only Flight to the Castle, by Veton Surroi

Veton is a friend of mine, the leader of a small but impressive political party in Kosovo, a former journalist and well-known commentator, whose tone is so characteristic that I think if I had been given samples of the text from this book and asked to guess the author it would not have taken me long. He kindly gave me a copy of his new book on Monday night, and I finished it today while sitting in Pristina airport waiting for confirmation that my plane home had got lost in the fog (symbolic, perhaps).

It's a quick read, only 160 pages, with an introduction by Tim Judah. In a combination of fictionalised commentary and of semi-fantasy which reminded me most (and I'm sure it's not accidental) of Ismail Kadarë, Veton explores the coming negotiations over the future status of Kosovo through the lens of the experience of ordinary Kosovo Albanians and Roma who were affected by the war, but also exploring the (real but imagined) personalities of Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica and the UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari, and their (fictional) advisers.

He's at his best in describing life in wartime Kosovo and the Kosovo Albanians' attitude to their neighbours. Time has already overtaken his account of the negotiations, fictional though it is, with the death of President Rugova (though he does hint at this in the text, written mostly last November as far as I can tell) and more importantly with this week's statement from the Contact Group which clarifies the terms of the talks very helpfully.

I have to say I will come back from this trip a lot more cheerful about the future of Kosovo (and indeed of Macedonia, where I have also spent some time) than I was when I came.
Tags: bookblog 2006, people: martti ahtisaari, world: kosovo
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