A Dictator Calls The Mystery of the Stalin-Pasternak Telephone Call

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Hardback (31 Aug 2023)

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Publisher's Synopsis

'Comrade Stalin wishes to speak with you.'

A fascinating exploration of the relationship between writers and tyranny, from the winner of the first Man Booker International Prize.


In June 1934, Joseph Stalin allegedly telephoned the famous novelist and poet Boris Pasternak to discuss the arrest of fellow Soviet poet Osip Mandelstam. In a fascinating combination of dreams and dossier facts, Ismail Kadare reconstructs the three minutes they spoke and the aftershocks of this tense, mysterious moment in modern history.

Weaving together the accounts of witnesses, reporters and writers such as Isaiah Berlin and Anna Akhmatova, Kadare tells a gripping story of power and political structures, of the relationship between writers and tyranny. The telling brings to light uncanny parallels with Kadare's experience writing under dictatorship, when he received an unexpected phone call of his own.

Translated from the Albanian by John Hodgson

'Kadare is one of Europe's most consistently interesting and powerful contemporary novelists, a writer whose stark, memorable prose imprints itself on the reader's consciousness.' Los Angeles Times

Book information

ISBN: 9781787303638
Publisher: Random House
Imprint: Harvill Secker
Pub date:
Edition: Hardback original
DEWEY: 891.9913
DEWEY edition: 23
Language: English
Sales rank: 10934
Number of pages: 223
Weight: 308g
Height: 138mm
Width: 205mm
Spine width: 26mm