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The Successor by Ismail Kadare
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The Successor (original 2003; edition 2006)

by Ismail Kadare

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2901638,756 (3.54)72
Member:wandering_star
Title:The Successor
Authors:Ismail Kadare
Info:
Collections:read, not kept, books I have read
Rating:**1/2
Tags:albania, totalitarianism, not kept, out: BM, july, 2007, fiction, in: gift, Nik

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The Successor by Ismail Kadare (2003)

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English (14)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
A whodunit about the death of the successor to Albania’s ruler. But also a political novel about the madness of a dictatorship. Fear, envy, suspicion, and whim disguise as loyalty to motivate political intrigues. And politics, whether in governments, corporations, churches, or families, don similar costumes. ( )
  Leonard_Seet | Oct 4, 2012 |
The Designated Successor was found dead in his bedroom at dawn on December 14. From this starting point, Kadare moves both backwards and forwards in time, looking dispassionately at the event from multiple perspectives, including that of the Successor's family, the Guide (Albania's aging, blind dictator), the new heir apparent, the architect in charge of the recent renovations of the Successor's house, and various unnamed foreign intelligence agencies. Did the Successor commit suicide, or was he murdered? If he was murdered, who killed him, and who will be blamed? (These are not necessarily the same person.) Is it possible to discover the true facts about the death? What are the implications for the future? It's a fascinating psychological study of Albanian politics in the Cold War era, perhaps best summed up by the anonymous intelligence agency analysts: The only way you can get a grip on a place overcome by paranoia is by becoming a little paranoid yourself. ( )
  cbl_tn | May 12, 2012 |
Like the other reviewers I found this gripping and fascinating, with multiple layers of meaning. I don't think, however, that readers need to know much about its relation to actual historical events - like Kafka and the Greek myths which Kadare refers to, the story is timeless, so don't be put off if like me you are not au fait with recent Albanian history. ( )
  richard_carpenter | Jul 5, 2011 |
Interesting novel based on the suicide/murder of the Albanian no 2 leader Mehmet Shehu (the Successor) in 1981, almost certainly at the instigation of the dictator Enver Hoxha (the Guide). It conveys the atmosphere of paranoia and political machination in the unltra-Stalinist state very well, though I thought it lost its way a bit in the middle in the long chapter about the Successor's daughter's love life. ( )
  john257hopper | Mar 26, 2011 |
This is a fictionalised account of the events surrounding the death of Mahmet Shehu (the titular character) and how it affected those involved. His place as designated heir to the Albanian leadership under question and with an enquiry paused overnight where final pronouncement is due, the successor is found dead in his home with a gunshot wound to the head. A verdict of suicide is quickly announced and despite this, or perhaps because of the speed and lack of a thorough investigation, rumours appear of it being a murder instead. Potential suspects abound, regardless that the house was all locked up, and even the Guide (Albania's leader) is thought to be involved. Is there any truth to the existence of a secret passage between their adjacent properties? Perhaps a member of the family is guilty with the daughter having to break off her engagement due to political influence.

Are there any answers to be had at all? This is the question that drives you on to the end as we hear the thoughts of the protagonists and see how subsequent events affect their own lives. Less about the geographical aspect of Albanian life we do learn of the political adherence to the Communist rule of the time as well as the fear of denunciation of the people, especially those closest to the seat of power. Note: This book was translated into English from the French which itself was translated from the original. ( )
  AHS-Wolfy | Jan 26, 2011 |
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The Designated Successor was found dead in his bedroom at dawn on December 14.
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He took the view that crimes moved house with people, until they found walls within which they could hide.
The nature of such a bond was presumably still little understood, because it was too new. Unlike religious allegiances, it was in competition with the ties of clan and family, because it too was a tie of blood - but with a difference. It wasn't based on inner blood, the blood in your veins, identical to the blood of your family going back a thousand years, according to genetics, but on the other kind, on outer blood. That's to say, on the blood of others, blood they had drunkenly spilled in the name of Doctrine.
Where, as on some station platform or in an airport arrivals hall, the dead by the thousands stand around in little groups waiting for their nearest and dearest. Some are overwhelmed with longing to clasp in their arms those from whom they have been separated, but there are others who with sombre and resentful visage display their wounds, waiting for an explanation.
In past times, nobody ever felt certain of anything. You thought you were as white as snow, and then, without even knowing what you had done, you found you had been subjected to foreign influences. Or that you had been contaminated despite yourself by the wind of liberalism. It wasn't by chance they called them winds of ill fortune - you could get caught out by a diabolical draught anywhere you stood.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038566219X, Paperback)

A new novel from the acclaimed winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize for achievement in fiction.

The Successor is a powerful political novel based on the sudden, mysterious death of the man who had been handpicked to succeed the hated Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha.

The man who died was Mehmet Shehu, the presumed heir to the ailing dictator. The world was so certain that he was next in line that he was known as The Successor. And then, shortly before he was to assume power, he was found dead. Did he commit suicide or was he murdered?

The Successor is simultaneously a page-turning mystery, a historical novel – based on actual events and buttressed by the author’s private conversations with the son of the real-life Mehmet Shehu – and a psychological challenge to the reader to decide, How does one live when nothing is sure? The Successor seamlessly blends dream and reality, legendary past, and contemporary history, and proves again that Kadare stands alongside Márquez, Canetti, and Auster.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:10 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"This, Ismail Kadare's most recent novel, is a fictional inquiry into the still-unexplained death of Mehmet Shehu, the man who for decades was the designated Number Two political figure in Communist dictator Enver Hoxha's ironfisted and increasingly paranoid regime." "On the night of December 13, 1981, the so-called Successor was shot dead, sometime between midnight and early morning. Did he commit suicide or was he murdered? This is the burning question. There are a number of potential murderers: the architect in charge of renovating the Successor's new quarters, who knew of the secret underground passage to his home; a rising political figure, Adrian Hasobeu, who if the current successor were to disappear would surely be named Number Two; the dictator himself - known to his countrymen as the Guide - now ailing and almost blind, unable to countenance even the idea of being replaced; and, incredibly, the Successor's wife." "The Successor combines a tantalizing mystery with a historical novel (Who killed Mehmet Shehu?), a psychological examination (How do you live in a world where nothing is sure?), and an analysis of a dictatorship so repressive that its followers treat it as a religious faith, where love, and indeed all personal relations, are subject to the whims and demands of the state."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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