Travelogue with books – 2021 – Day 2

Country Name: Albania

A Girl in Exile, his latest novel translated into English, from the original Albanian published in 2009, is one of Kadare’s cruellest exercises in irony. It is a painful, sometimes comic mystery dedicated to unravelling why Linda B.—a girl on the cusp of womanhood living in forced internal exile with her once-royalist family in the rural reaches of Albania during the twilight of Enver Hoxha’s dictatorship—commits suicide.

The novel is by turns a probing exploration of the strict censures on everyday life—from which coffee shop one drinks at to the friends and lovers one has and the art one makes—under a totalitarian regime, and by turns epic in its connections among the present of life under Hoxha in the 1980s and the ancient past of Western mythology and history. Kadare interweaves Orpheus, Caligula, Skanderbeg, the early Hoxhist years, and communist Albania’s dissolution, morphing the political topology of Albania into the personal presence of the novel’s protagonist.

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