‘Inside Albania’ by Edward Fox

The narrator of ‘Inside Albania’, an American journalist, like the author, accepts an invitation to visit Albania as a guest of the then president, Enver Hoxha. The narrator flies from New York to Budapest, where he switches to a propellor-driven aircraft that will take him the rest of the way, accompanied on this leg of the journey by a furious-seeming man in a dark brown suit with hair ‘as thick and curly as rams’ horns’. He eventually meets Hoxha and they dine together and the following day drive up to the mountains where extraordinary locals are encountered. It is an unusually compelling story and, up to a point, completely believable. When I read it for the first time I had just been to Albania myself and it seemed to me, so accurate and evocative were Fox’s descriptions, that not only had he also been to that almost uniquely isolated country, but I wondered if he had actually been a guest of the president. When I decided on the organising principle for this Personal Anthology, ‘Inside Albania’ was the first story on my list for inclusion. It may be read online at Edward Fox’s web site http://www.edwardfox.co.uk.

 (London Magazine, March 1987)