Silva comes from a good communist family: she works in the Ministry of Construction, her husband Gjergj is a diplomat, and her brother Arian commands a tank unit. But Arian is arrested for refusing to surround a district Party committee, while Gjergj is carrying letters backwards and forwards to China. And her friend Skënder Bernema, a writer (and obviously Kadare's alter ego, since several of his short stories and sketches are included), visits China as part of a writer's delegation — even though he can't meet any Chinese writers, since they are undergoing rural re-education.
Connected to these figures are others: the clerk Simon Dersha, who is awe-struck that he has dinner with Minister D; the Minister himself, trapped by an old indiscretion into treason; Ekrem Fortuzi, from a humbled bourgeois family, who has taught himself Chinese and makes a living doing translations; the engineer Victor Hila, who steps on a Chinaman's foot, resulting in X-rays being carried backwards and forwards between Beijing and Tirana; Silva's workmate Linda, who is keen on her friend Besnik; Mao, dreaming megalomaniac dreams at the end of his life; and Juan Maria Krams, a professional "international communist", following the affairs of the assorted splinter groups and trying to make up his mind whether to go with the Chinese or the Albanians in the event of a split.
Some of these characters have no more than bit-parts, but none of them descend to pure caricature and we become involved at least a little with them all. It is this that drives The Concert, which doesn't have that much of a plot but nevertheless manages to keep one turning the pages without any problems at all.
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