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Palace of Dreams Paperback – 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099518279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099518273
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,494,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Dreams flow into Istanbul from all corners of the Ottoman Empire to be sorted, interpreted, stored, or acted upon by an enormous bureaucracy of faceless figures. Wheels operate within wheels: nobody really knows what is going on except a few puppet-masters at the top. The innocent scion of a high, powerful family begins work in the Tabir Sarrail, that cavernous palace of endless blank corridors which, like Dr. Who�s Tardis, is much bigger inside than out. Sinister goings on, always just out of sight, almost out of earshot. Mark-Alem learns as he goes. His meteoric rise may have ominous significance. Maybe not. He has to make sense out of the senseless. He has to give meaning to the meaningless. Interpretation is everything, but a wrong twist could lead to fatal disaster. Are his fellow workers in on some dark secrets that he has failed to decipher ? Or are they just as they seem, friendly and struggling ? The world of power dazzles and depresses simultaneously.
When is Ismail Kadare going to get the Nobel Prize ? I have asked this before. THE PALACE OF DREAMS is yet another masterpiece by this Albanian author. It has links to �The Three-Arched Bridge�, another of his great novels. While the tenor of THE PALACE OF DREAMS is entirely different from the latter work, they do the share the enviable quality of operating on several levels, which to my mind, always indicates the highest craftsmanship. The present volume resembles Kafka more than a little, perhaps also is reminiscent of Sartre�s play �No Exit�. At one level it is such a nightmarish fantasy, a bad dream played out in a couple hundred pages. At a second level, Kadare succeeded in writing a magnificent replica of the workings of secret security agencies within the administration of Communist era nations like Albania.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come.

Ismail Kadare's "The Palace of Dreams" is a book that reads like Kafka as influenced by the painter M.C. Escher with a bit of "1001 Arabian Nights" thrown in for good measure.

Ismail Kadare is an Albanian poet and writer. He is also the winner of the first Man Booker International Prize in 2005 and was selected from a list of nominees that included Saul Bellow, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Naguib Mahfouz, Milan Kundera, and Gunter Grass. The Palace of Dreams is one of his best known, many say best, work.

"Palace of Dreams" is set some time in the 19th-century in an Islamic-ruled Ottoman Empire that includes the Balkans (including Kadare's native Albania). The Palace of the title is a mammoth office building where the dreams of everyone in the kingdom are submitted for analysis. It is a Byzantine bureaucracy whose complexity is matched only by the dark, complex hallways and byways of the building itself. The Sultanate considers the dreams of his subjects to contain clues to the future. Like an oracle of Delphi, dreams are interpreted to predict plots against the Sultan or threat to the Empire generally. The interpretation of dreams is a powerful tool used to run the Empire and control its citizens and as a result the Palace of Dreams is the most feared agency in existence.

Into the Palace of Dreams steps a young new employee, Mark-Alem. Mark-Alem is a member of the Quprili family. The Quprilis are a powerful family of Albanian origin. For generations the family has produced high-ranking Viziers, the approximate equivalent of Cabinet Ministers, to the Sultan.
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Format: Paperback
In Kadare's hallucinatory novel, the most important ministry in the country is the one where the dreams of all its citizens are interpreted. A monstrous bureaucratic organization collects those dreams and a monstrous herd of employees classifies and analyzes them. The interpretation of the apparently most important dream is presented every week to the sultan, because it could contain crucial information about the destiny of the country and the ruling families.
The whole country has really turned into a ghost state, where people perform ghost work: Absurdistan.
Of course, this macabre ministry is only a veil for the bitter power struggle between the powerful. A bad dream interpretation could create an opportunity to lash out at the other throne contenders with deadly consequences for the innocent common citizens. The for the common man seemingly blind fatality is in fact the result of a deadly fight for control and power between the mighty.
Kadare's novel, inspired by Enver Hoxha's Albania, is a masterful portrait of the totalitarian state, where real life is replaced by hallucinations. The government's most important role is to try to control even the dreams of its citizens. A dark nightmarish regime.
This highly political work is composed and reads like a thriller. A real masterpiece.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a testimony to the imposition of power on people - in this case, the controlling (and crushing) of potentially rebellious dreams against the State. Kadare does a good job of creating the tension that reverberates throughout the book. I was gripped with suspense and fear everytime Mark-Alem walked in silence through the dark, creepy corridors that stretched for miles on end. That really gave me the chills. Kadare also has a good grasp of his words. The interpretation of the book (originally in French) is superb - very easy to read, and manages to deliver the story in good style. The story is engaging, and it draws you into the world of the Tabir Sarrail, where reality and dreams are indistinguishable. It makes you want to finish the book in one sitting.
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