4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Murder by law,
This review is from: Broken April (Paperback)
Kadare's `BA' is a novel that skilfully contrasts the attitudes of its different characters to acts of violence. The highlands of Albania, in which the book is set, were ruled by the Kanun, a set of laws governing crime and punishment. The central character, Gjorg, comes from a family which is feuding with its neighbours, and the interpreters of the Kanun have determined that Gjorg is permitted to kill a member of that family. When he does so, his life also becomes forfeit, and he has only a month to live. The book opens with the murder Gjorg commits. On his way to pay the blood tax, Gjorg encounters an intellectual, Bessian, and his new wife, Diana. Bessian is taking her on a tour of the highlands, and he is extolling the virtues of the Kanun as a legal system. His cold-hearted approach contrasts sharply to her visceral horror of the endless chain of killings. Thus Kadare skilfully blends three attitudes towards Gjorg's inevitable murder by relatives of the man he killed. Gjorg is resigned because it is law, Bessian believes that it is good, and Diana feels nothing but horror.
Kadare's book raises questions of right and wrong, crime and punishment, that reach far beyond the Albanian highlands. `BA' forces the reader to examine what violence means when violence is enshrined in law, as it is in countries with corporal or capital punishment. I found `BA' to be an easy read in terms of style, but difficult in terms of content. It is a bleak book, necessarily so, but don't let that put you off. It is though provoking, simple yet effective, and a well-constructed parable, and well worth a read.