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Agamemnon's Daughter: A Novella and Stories Hardcover – 16 Aug 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd (16 Aug. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184767223X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847672230
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 855,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A master storyteller." John Carey "Kadare brilliantly recreates the atmosphere of shadowy fear, rumours and recrimination in Albania... a mesmerically readable parable about the abuse of state power." Observer "Suffused with the power of thought and feeling... Above all, Kadare creates a haunting sense of the absurd." The Sunday Times "Dream and reality melt together, as in Kafka, making it difficult to identify where the nightmares really begin." Misha Glenny, The Times"

Book Description

Sacrificed to further a father’s blood-soaked career; sacrificed for the common good; sacrificed, then forgotten. --This text refers to the Perfect Paperback edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Dorian Alimehmeti on 2 Jun. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is about dictators and while its events take place inn a small country irrelevant to the world, its story is indeed relevant to the world.

It draws comparisons with other dictators (Stalin) or leaders (Agamemnon) which in our timne would be defined as such.

Most of all this books is about the corruption that power brings to the society and especialy how those corrupt individuals, whoare in charge of our societies (politicians and great leaders) would do anything to achive their goals, including...(wish I could tell you).

I gave it only four stars, since when you are from free countries who have never been part of any kind of dictatorship, might find it to be les relevant, neverthe less this should serve as a vacination for future dictatorships, be it cultural, governmental, religious ( a dictatorship does not have to be a Government one, it can be religious, life stylre, cultural and we must be aware of its anatomy)or social.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alexa VINE VOICE on 23 May 2013
Format: Perfect Paperback
I was stunned by the utter brilliance of these beautifully crafted short stories. They unfold with a mesmerising, hypnotic inevitability. The outcome is bleak in every case - but what else could it be? Each tale dissects, with perfect clarity, the mechanisms by which a totalitarian regime functions. They have a mythic quality, rooted in timeless truths about human society; yet the horrors they delineate are familiar to everyone aware of the events of the 20th century.

The narrative voice is cool and unemotional. Some people find this makes the narrative hard to ccnnect with, but in my opinion, this sense of dislocation and distance is necessary, in order for the reader to be able to handle the information these stories contain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Viscacha on 28 Mar. 2013
Format: Perfect Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my first Kadare book and it is not an easy read to begin with yet once the allusions to Albania pre-1985 became clearer over the first 20-30 pages I really found it riveting - helped by my exposure to Albanian society over the last 10 years and the stories told by its people about life under Enver Hoxha. Deeper into it it becomes compelling reading as it draws upon how awful life really was in Albania (and that it the sub-text). Full marks for the vignette about how the script got out of Albania in the first place - says a lot about how unaware the secret police and state officials were about their own condition when told in the story of life around the times of the Trojan War.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark Meynell VINE VOICE on 22 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ismail Kadare is fast becoming one of my favourite writers. An Albanian who has divided his time between his native land and Paris since the early 90s, Kadare ingeniously captures the disorientating experience of life under dictatorship. In some ways, he is the iron curtain's equivalent of George Orwell (especially of course his Nineteen Eighty-Four), except for the obvious difference that his experiences were first-hand.

This book is actually a compilation of 3 short stories, fluently translated from a French translation of the original Albanian by David Bellos.
- The title story is set in Tirana in the 1980s, as the unnamed narrator unexpectedly finds himself granted a ticket to the senior stands at the annual May Day Parade (normally the preserve of the communist party elite).
- The Blinding Order is set in Istanbul during the reforms of the Ottoman Empire that occurred during the 1800s
- The Great Wall is set on the Chinese frontier during the 1300s, the time that imperial China faced threats from the hoardes of Timur (or Tamburlaine) the Great.
They're very different tales. But they share the loose but common thread of Ottoman history; and they all depict the bewilderment of those desperately second-guessing despotic regimes. Nothing is ever as it seems - the powers that be always more Machiavellian than one thought possible. The only certainty is that one's initial interpretation of political moves or decrees is wrong. It is grimly cynical - but then if you'ld lived under Albanian communism (supposedly the 'purest' in history), you'd be too.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Smuggle the manuscript ... 17 May 2007
By M. J. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In an excerpt from the publisher's preface to the French edition, we are told how Kadare smuggled manuscripts out of Albania, disguising them as translations from a German author, bringing only a few sheets at a time to be safely stored in Paris. His intent was to ensure that the totalitarian government of Albania could not misrepresent his work - that his objections to totalitarian governments would be unmistakable. In this context, it is not surprising that these stories have a didactic bent. But who else wins the Man Booker International Prize with didactic fiction?

Yet again, Kadare is a masterful writer. The plot lines of all three works in this book are very sparse. In Agamemnon's Daughter the narrator quits waiting for a lover he know is not coming and goes to watch a parade from a grandstand - a coveted perspective. In The Blinding Order, government orders evil eyes be removed. Girl's fiance works for governmental agency enforcing order; hoped for political safety for family backfires. In The Great Wall, Chinese administrator charged with rebuilding wall misunderstands reason for the Wall ... Yet all three pieces are riveting reading - through the ruminations of the narrator, each story speaks of political and social power. In each, the ruminations take twists and turns as riveting as any plot-action. And the ruminations ring true to human experience tying into other works of Kadare (especially the The Three-Arched Bridge), mythology (Agamemnon) and history (Tamerlane). This truly is an example of fiction carrying more truth about human behavior/abuse than any factual history book ever could. Pure ecstacy to read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Dictators and power as a corruption of the human soul, 30 Aug. 2007
By Mr. Dorian Alimehmeti - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is about dictators and while its events take place inn a small country irrelevant to the world, its story is indeed relevant to the world.
It draws comparisons with other dictators (Stalin) or leaders (Agamemnon) which in our timne would be defined as such.
Most of all this books is about the corruption that power brings to the society and especialy how those corrupt individuals, whoare in charge of our societies (politicians and great leaders) would do anything to achive their goals, including...(wish I could tell you).
I gave it only four stars, since when you are from free countries who have never been part of any kind of dictatorship, might find it to be les relevant, neverthe less this should serve as a vacination for future dictatorships, be it cultural, governmental, religious ( a dictatorship does not have to be a Government one, it can be religious, life stylre, cultural and we must be aware of its anatomy)or social.
Directly Confronting Dictatorship 22 Jun. 2011
By Robert Taylor Brewer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Agamemnon's Daughter
When I studied the Albanian language at the Defense Language Institute, one of the first phrases we learned was "Jam nga Lushnja" (I'm from Lushnja). I wondered where the town was and what it was like. Lushnja is situated about 40 miles southwest of Tirana, Albania's capital. It's a small town, a former provincial capital, and it plays a role all out of proportion to its historical importance in Ismail Kadare's novel Agamemnon's Daughter.

Reminiscent of the parade in Richard Ford's Independence Day, an unknown first person narrator mixes with the crowd at a May Day celebration, on his way to an invitation only grandstand seat. Engulfed in a flood of memories, he tries to recall what he did to deserve such an invitation. He's had a relationship with the daughter of Albania's second in command, but the woman, Suzana, has broken it off, sacrificing her relationship so her father can continue his upward climb through the ranks.

One day, someone from Lushnja files a complaint to the communist party Central Committee. It's a mild mannered protest about the length of someone's dress, taken facetiously by Party regulars who receive it Slowly, the complaint gathers momentum, is viewed seriously by higher ups until it triggers the harshest reaction possible within the regime, causing dictator Enver Hoxha to invoke his most brutal tool, the "blind purge" - a wild, illogical, all consuming passion to locate dissidents, suspected or real, terminate their careers, relationships, even the lives of people caught in its unfathomable web. The anxiety and terror inflicted on ordinary people is described in brilliant and haunting detail although within the whirlwind of suspicion and heightened paranoia, even the days of our narrator could be numbered.

Previous Kadare novels typically erect elaborate allegories that embed abuses of dictatorship, but Agamemnon's Daughter is a direct confrontation with the Hoxha regime. Little wonder this book had to be smuggled out of the country a few pages at a time. To be honest, there are times when the translation is stifling, as though Kadare is being kept in a literary straightjacket. For example, on Page 8 we get: "I carried on staring at the naked parts of her body." It's hard to imagine most people reacting to such a sight with that kind of language. Later on, the writer is allowed to breathe and on page 15 we get the beautifully relaxed tone: "some of the people in the street must have been in possession of invitations just like mine. You could tell who they were, not only because they were dressed to the nines, but from their attitudes, their postures, and their beaming faces." The war of nerves the prose induces is over, and we get down to the business of seeing how the Albanian people were straight jacketed for 45 years as Kadare unleashes a parade of characters navigating their way through dictatorship: the low ranking official who's career is in tatters after he laughed at Stalin's death, the miserly G.Z., condemned to feed the regime a steady diet of tattling after a fall from grace, the uncle who takes nitroglycerin to recover from arguments with his nephew, finally the courtroom bravery of one soul who gets pushed to his death in a chrome mine. All are portraits Kadare adds to the mosaic about dictatorship he has compiled over the years.

Note: Mr. Brewer's translation of Ismail Kadare's essay Aspects of Dictatorship appears in the Winter 2011 edition of Michigan Quarterly Review.
Excellent 19 Oct. 2013
By Pavic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Kadare is simply one of the best writers Europe has given in the XXth century and Agamemnon's daughter, a story about totalitarianism and oppression, turns out to be one of his most memorable writings. Some compared it with Orwell, but Kadare in my opinion is even more subtle than that. 1984 is a dystopia, while Kadare's Agamemnon's Daughter is a modern tragedy that everyone who ever lived or came in contact with communism can identify with. He is so much more than Herta Muller, his precise and refined writing instantly becomes unforgettable.
This year before the announcement of the Nobel Award, my fingers were crossed for Kadare. He definitely deserves it!
tops 23 Dec. 2013
By J. craig - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
a superb read i loved it and his other half of this story..seven more words of liking it required i did and you should read it.
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