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Agamemnon's Daughter: A Novella and Stories Hardcover – November 6, 2006


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From Publishers Weekly

Kadare won the Man Booker International Prize last year for his searing documentation, in numerous works, of Albanian history and politics, particularly life under Communism (The General of the Dead Army, etc.). This miscellany contains the title novella, finished in 1985 and published here in English for the first time, and two stories. The novella, a companion to Kadare's The Successor, follows one day in the life of a young, unnamed journalist about to attend a celebratory May Day parade (under Communism, a highly charged political function). His "half-girl, half-woman" lover, Suzana, whose father's political star is one the rise, has just left the journalist in a sort of political sacrifice (the journalist is "practically engaged to someone else" and it looks bad). Through a wry and compelling set of ruminations on the grandstand, the journalist finds that a government that would deny young love denies humanity, and seeks the isolation of every citizen—which in turn pits neighbor against neighbor in a fever of paranoid denunciation. That simple but powerful insight also lies behind the two shorter, more allegorical works in the collection, "The Blinding Order" and "The Great Wall," which were completed in 1984 and 1993 respectively. (Nov.)
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From Booklist

The three tales collected here realize the theme of fear as an instrument of power with consummate art. In the novella "Agamemnon's Daughter," a man takes the anxiety of his lover breaking off with him to the Communist May Day celebration. As he walks to the parade ground, he tries to fathom what his inexplicably good grandstand-seat ticket portends for him and, indeed, for everyone at his government workplace. The fate of Iphigenia, sacrificed by her father so that the Greeks could reach Troy, nags him. Does it pertain to the loss of his lover, daughter of a party bigwig? "The Blinding Order," set in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire, relates the kind of trickle-down effect the Agamemnon's Daughter protagonist fears for his department from the perspective of a young woman whose fiance is appointed a judge responsible for enforcing the sultan's new measures against the evil eye. "The Great Wall" alternates the perspectives of a Chinese construction inspector and a nomad scout on either side of China's famous bulwark as Tamerlane's forces approach. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; First Edition edition (November 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559707887
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559707886
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,117,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Smith VINE VOICE on May 16, 2007
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Dorian Alimehmeti on August 30, 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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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.
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