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Pervaded by the miasma of fear,
This review is from: The Successor (Paperback)
This novel is based on actual events: the Albanian communist dictator Enver Hoxha ("the Guide" in this book) denounced his long-standing premier and presumed heir, Mehmet Shehu ("the Successor"), who then was said to have shot himself. Whether he was murdered or committed suicide is the question at the centre of this book, and Kadare offers an ingenious answer in the last chapter. The whole book is suffused with the fear and paranoia prevailing in a country ruled by suspicious and devious tyrant: the terror felt by those near to him and by their families; the sycophantic rivalry for his favour; the dread felt by people like doctors or architects asked to work for someone in the government in case their work is dangerously caught up in some unpredictable political manoeuvre; the cautious and nervous gossip of the population; the attempt of foreign governments to make sense of what was happening in that hermetically sealed country.
Kadare has been fortunate in his translators. Most of his books have been translated from the Albanian into French and then from the French into English - in this case by David Bellos. This is the eighth novel of Kadare's that I have read and between them there have been at least seven translators - but they all capture Kadare's unmistakeable clean and simple style.