I've had to stop reading Broken April by Ismail Kadare, about 50 pages before the end - just under a quarter of its total length. It got to the point where I really couldn't manage more than a couple of pages before wanting to put it down. Reading a novel hasn't been this much of an effort since Iain Banks' A Song of Stone (a terrible book, which doesn't detract from the quality of The Wasp Factory, The Bridge, Complicity or The Crow Road). Not that it's badly written (or rather, that the translation is badly written) but I don't think it's stopped raining since I began, very little has happened, no character has made a decision which reveals something about themselves or challenges the situation they're in - essentially, there's been no real variation in terms of plot, theme, setting or personality, and worst of all, I don't care enough to find out what happens in the end. There have been about three or four good, interesting paragraphs dotted about, and that's it. I accept I may be missing something - is the whole thing designed as an allegory of life under communism, which must certainly have been this dreary and seemingly interminable? An associate is having comparable difficulties with The General of the Dead Army.
I have begun The Leopard instead, having put it off for long enough, and am enjoying it hugely, though relief is probably part of it. Useful that I read the Giovanni Verga stories collected in Life in the Country in January, which provide something by way of context, though I didn't think much of J.G. Nichols' translation. From what I remember sampling, the ones by D. H. Lawrence in Sparrow, Temptation and Cavalleria Rusticana are far better.
If this isn't a niche recommendation, I don't know what is.