Kadare's novels draw on Balkan history and legends. They are obliquely ironic as a result of trying to withstand political scrutiny. Among his best known books are Chronicle in Stone (1977), Broken April (1978) , and The Concert (1988), considered the best novel of the year 1991 by the French literary magazine Lire.
In 1990, Kadare claimed political asylum in France, issuing statements in favour of democratisation. During the ordeal, he stated that "dictatorship and authentic literature are incompatible. The writer is the natural enemy of dictatorship."
Some critics are ambiguous as to whether Kadare was a dissident or a conformist during the communist period, even though books such as The Palace of Dreams, are a brilliant denouncement of the tyranny and absurdity of the communist regime. In a political and literary environment completely and fiercely controlled by the state, Kadare's writing was, for many, the only view available that approached reality—let alone resistance. Although he has one untranslated novel featuring a flattering portrait of Enver Hoxha, Kadare has called the book "the price he had to pay for his freedom".
When asked, whether he has ever claimed to be an Albanian Solzhenitsyn, Kadare has argued that such a role wasn't readily available under Hoxha's uniquely paranoid and insular regime. He has also been quoted as saying that he never claimed to be a dissident, that
"dissidence was a position no one could occupy, even for a few days, without facing the firing squad. On the other hand, my books themselves constitute a very obvious form of resistance."
 Recognition Kadare's works have been published in over forty countries and translated in over thirty languages. In English, his works have usually appeared as secondary translations from the French.
The Monster (1965) (Albanian: Përbindëshi); shortly published in 1965 in the literary Nëntori magazine, the novel was soon censored and never appeared on the libraries. It was republished only 30 years later.
 Works published in French The complete works (except for the essays) of Ismail Kadare were published by Fayard, simultaneously in French and Albanian, between 1993 and 2004. Omitted from the list are the poetry and the short stories.
The dates of publication given here are those of the first publication in Albanian, unless stated otherwise. Kadare has often reworked his writings, and the newer editions may include significant differences from the original text.