Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
The Albanian Affairs Hardcover – November 17, 2006
From Publishers Weekly
Fortes's taut fifth novel (published in Spain to great acclaim in 2003, and also her first to be translated into English) tells the story of a family destroyed by the Communist regime in Albania. Ismail and Viktor's mother dies when the boys are young. As a young adult, Ismail, a budding poet, endured the Albanian cultural revolution of the early 70s, in which foreign influences were purged. Now, years later, he begins to suspect the death of his mother, a Spaniard, was not accidental—was she killed as part of a political plot? Fjording the could-be-your-neighbor spies and informers of the Hoxha regime, Ismail digs into his mother's past and learns about his mother's lover and of their foiled plans to run away together. As Ismail is discovering his mother's illicit love, he is also discovering his brother's wife, Helena. The sexual tension between Ismail and Helena is palpable from their first clasp of hands under a tablecloth. Sharply rendered by Chambers, Fortes's examination of the costs of loyalty begins—and ends—with a bang. (Nov. 17)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
[The Albanian Affairs is a] powerful meditation on the destinies of love's outlaws. (Starred Review) --Kirkus Reviews
Skillfully translated from the original Spanish by Leland H. Chambers, The Albanian Affairs is a heartrending novel by author Susana Fortes. Runner-up for the Planeta Prize for fiction, one of Spain's most renowned literary competitions, The Albanian Affairs is set in the nation of Albania during Enver Hoxha's tyrannical dictatorship. Within the villa of state hero Zanum Radjik on Tirana's Elbesan road, there squats a house filled with menacing secrets. Zanum's wife is deceased these many years, and his two very different sons, who embark upon vastly different paths of honor. When the elder son, Viktor, brings home a beautiful peasant bride, passion for her threatens to overwhelm the younger sibling Ismail. The Albanian Affairs is at once a steamy tale of forbidden love, a harrowing novel of mental and emotional oppression, and a tragedy in the vein of ancient Greek classics. Highly recommended for modern literature shelves. --Midwest Book Review
The novel is surrounded by mystery and a sense of tragic life, which undoubtedly binds this ensemble of characters that are doomed to failure from the start. It also parallels the fear and secrecy felt by many Albanians who were in opposition with communism and its doctrine. Susana Fortes deftly blends elements of realism, mystery, suspense, revenge and eroticism... --Illyria, the Albanian-American Newspaper
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This newfound openness has led to a literal explosion of books about Albania. Lots of new histories are coming out, and we're even starting to see a few novels. One of them is Susana Fortes' "The Albanian Affairs". According to the book jacket, Fortes is a Spanish author who has won numerous prizes for her fiction. I can see why after reading the book. "The Albanian Affairs" is, on the surface, a story about forbidden love doomed to tragedy. It's the story of two brothers, Viktor and Ismail, growing up as sons of a powerful communist party apparatchik. The doomed love enters the picture in the form of the lovely Helena. She marries the militaristic Viktor but has eyes for poetry loving Ismail. And on and on...you get the picture. Doesn't seem like the sort of story that would win prizes, does it? That's because there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye. The love story is only a small part of the novel. You see, there's another important relationship that is key to the story, a relationship between Ismail and Viktor's father, their late mother, and a doctor who came into the family to help Viktor overcome a childhood illness.
Amidst the tumultuous love stories unfolding throughout the story, Fortes also examines the idea of memory. A large segment of the story deals with Ismail's early childhood memories of his brother, his mother, and his father. He struggles to discover what exactly happened to his parents' relationship as he grows older, and he also tries to uncover when he and Ismail began to grow apart. He's not really in a position to come right out and ask his father about the past, nor can he engage his brother on the topic. Memory is a dangerous undertaking in a communist state, especially one as paranoid as Enver Hoxha's Albania. Those asking questions or trying to discover the whereabouts of loved ones tend to disappear in the middle of the night. The regime itself seems to have no idea where the bodies are buried thanks to the constant purging of officials. Ismail is reduced to approaching an old Hungarian servant who once worked for the family in an effort to uncover the mystery surrounding his mother's misfortune. Every bit of information is piecemeal, nebulous and mysterious, until a night when the family implodes and all truth becomes horrifically, frighteningly apparent.
I was awfully proud of myself, proud that I didn't give away too many spoilers in the two paragraphs above, until I went and read the editorial review on this page. Publisher's Weekly gives away the whole ball of wax in just a few lousy sentences! Oh man! Don't worry about it, though. Fortes' novel has a lot more going for it than mere plot. For example, the atmosphere conjured up in "The Albanian Affairs" really helps the reader slip into the story. Albania during the Hoxha regime was not a happy place for anyone. Even party members worried about their future on a daily basis. Just ask Mehmet Shehu...oh, you can't because he's dead, murdered by the fearless leader in one of the endless, senseless purges that rocked the Albanian government for forty years. Fortes' novel successfully conveys this sense of danger every Albanian experienced on a daily basis through Ismail's involvement in the student underground and his investigations into his mother's fate. As he walks the streets, going about his grim work, he always worries about possible pursuers in the form of the dreaded Sigurimi (secret police) turning up to arrest him. Even the son of a prominent official isn't safe in Albania.
I definitely recommend "The Albanian Affairs" to those who love good fiction. Obviously, Albania fans will want to give it a read as well. The story is intriguing, the atmosphere is excellent, and the tragic ending will leave you thinking long after you close the book. If I had to pick on the book in any way (and I should as a reviewer), I would question the author's focus on Ismail as the sole narrator of the story. I understand why she picked the artist to tell the tale, but the story really could've achieved great heights had she also examined the story from Viktor's point of view, or even the father's. Shifting the narrative in this way might have brought deeper meaning to the book. Or not. You can tell I'm really reaching to find something wrong with Fortes' novel, can't you? I liked it immensely, enough to give it a solid five stars. I'm hoping more novels set in Albania find their way to my bookshelf in the future.