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Research on South Eastern Europe
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Book Launch: False Apocalypse - From Stalinism to Capitalism

Event details


Wednesday, 15 October 2014


Canada Blanch room, 1st floor, Cowdray House, LSE


6:00 - 7:30 pm

Authors / Speakers

Fatos Lubonja and John Hodgson (trans.)


Dr Joanna Hanson, Visiting Senior Fellow, LSEE Research on South Eastern Europe, London School of Economics

Supported by

Istros Books|, English PEN|, Anglo-Albanian Association|

false-apocalypse-cover-01_532994650d3deFatos Lubonja is a writer and editor of the quarterly journal Përpjekja [Endeavor], representative of the Forum for Democracy, and a leading figure in Albania's political life. At twenty-three, Lubonja was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for "agitation and propaganda" after police found his diaries, which contained criticisms of Hoxha. He was re-sentenced without trail and spent a total of 17 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement, and was released in 1991.

John Hodgson (trans.) was born in England and studied English at Cambridge and Newcastle. He has taught at the universities of Prishtina and Tirana and is the translator of Ismail Kadare's Three-Arched Bridge. He has written about Albania, Kosova, the British Balkan traveller Edith Durham, and the novelist John Cowper Powys. He now works as an Albanian-English translator and interpreter

This unique and disturbing work concerns the events of 1997, a tragic year in the history of post-communist Albania.  After the world’s most isolated country emerged from Stalinist dictatorship and opened to capitalism, many people fell prey to fraudsters who invited them to invest in so-called ‘pyramid schemes’.  At the start of 1997, these pyramids crumbled one after another causing wide-spead demonstrations and protests.  The conflict became increasingly violent, leading to the collapse of the state and of the country’s institutions.  Prisons were opened, crowds stormed arms depots, and the country was abandoned to anarchy and gang rule.

Lubonja has chosen to tell this incredible story through a narrative technique that operates on two levels: a third-person narrator, who describes the large-scale events that made international headlines, and the narrative of Fatos Qorri, the author’s alter ego, who describes his own dramatic experiences in a personal diary.  The book begins with the synopsis of a novel entitled “The Sugar Boat” that Fatos Qorri intends to write about the spread of a small pyramid scheme luring people to invest supposedly in a sugar business.  However, as the major pyramids collapse, real events overtake anything he has imagined and Fatos Qorri finds himself in the midst of a real-life tragedy.

The event is kindly supported by English PEN and will be followed by a reception offered by the Anglo-Albanian Association.




  1 group-picFrom left to right: author Fatos Lubonja, LSEE's Joanna Hanson,
Istros Books' Susan Curtis and translator John Hodgson

2 Joanna-and-FatosJoanna Hanson, chairing the event, and Fatos Lubonja

3 audienceThe audience in Cañada Blanch room

4 Q-and-AQuestions and answers

5 FatosFatos Lubonja

6 receptionPost-event reception: members of the audience discussing with the speakers




Listen to the event's podcast