What does a child living in a small Albanian town that has stood since Medieval times see as World War II grips his home? The familiar stone walls that have always stood sturdy shivering night after night under the bombings. The skies and the earth that seemed to exist in a perpetual harmonious marriage suddenly pitted against one another. Familiar figures gone mad, turning on people they have known all their lives, or suddenly lifeless in heaps on the streets. Grotesque absurdities such as the severed arm of a British airman becoming "the hand that works miracles" in a monastery, to which people in desperation make pilgrimages.
In Ismail Kadare's semi-autobiographical account, Chronicle in Stone (1971), a child's world of magical timelessness struggles to survive as the drumbeat of war intensifies.
This one will stay with me. In particular, the account of the town's medieval citadel taking back the city it had given birth to, as the townspeople seek shelter there:
The fortress was indeed very old. It had given birth to the city, and our houses resembled the citadel the way children look like their mothers. Over the centuries, the city had grown up a lot. Although the fortress was in good condition, no one ever thought that one day it would have the strength to take its offspring, the city, under its protection. That was a terrifying return to the past. It was like someone going back into the womb. (p. 188)