Kadare worked on The Concert from 1978 to 1988. It is his longest novel, and it conveys the apprehension felt by the Albanian citizens under Enver Hoxha’s strict Communist regime, where anyone could quickly fall out of favor. The novel deals with the last years of Albania’s political alliance with China, from Chairman Mao Zedong’s eightieth year to his death in 1976. During those years, Mao was determined to humiliate the Albanians for having dared to question his decision to entertain the president of the United States. The title refers to a rare concert given by the Chinese for their foreign visitors on the Day of the Birds, a concert that filled everyone with dread. Its meaning became clear when China subsequently withdrew all support for Albania.
The main plot line illustrates the difference between Albanian and Chinese communism. Arian Krasniqi is an Albanian officer who refuses to obey Minister D’s order, suggested to him by the Chinese, to encircle the Communist Party committee with tanks. For his disobedience, Krasniqi is expelled from the party and imprisoned. However, Krasniqi is vindicated by Enver Hoxha himself, who states in a public address that to encircle a party committee with tanks is tantamount to rehearsing for a military putsch and that such orders will never be carried out in Albania, no matter who issues them. Minister D then has no option but to release the tank officer and prepare his auto-critique for the party....
(The entire section is 533 words.)