Book Review: The Successor – ***1/2 stars

Categories: Books

I got my wish – a great read, that I could just get lost in. I read this book in a matter of days, but not because it was simple – Kadare’s writing style is actually different than anything i’ve read before, with perspectives changing without notice, and interleaving between scenes in different timelines. The reason, I read this book so fast was that it was simply an exciting murder mystery book.  Even though the book is based on real events – the death of Mehmet Shehu, the expected successor to … , the then president of communist Albania, I didn’t feel like I was reading a biography – just a good fiction story.  Starting out, I knew absolutely nothing about Albania (aside from the Kosovo war in the 90’s and Tie Domi… nada…). at the end, well, i really still don’t know much 😉 but i do know where the country is, that it was communist, and like most of the other ex-commi countries, went through turmoil – in this case ,the mysterious death of Shehu.  In a nutshell, Shehu was always seen as Hoxha’s right hand man and shoe-in for succession, but then one day he was found dead in his home in an apparent suicide which was illegal in the country and considered ‘against the people’

so the the government disowned the guy – historical references were even edited to remove his name which has turned out to be pretty effective -even  the Albania wikipedia entry doesn’t mention him – you would think the ‘collaborative’ brainpower that wikipeodia touts so much, would have flushed info about him out – not the case, you have to look for his specific page to find out anything about Shehu.  Given that suicide would result in something so drastic, rumours are abound of Shehu being a Yugoslav or Russian spy, and even a CIA spy and that instead of commiting suicide, he had actually been murdered. If that’s the case, who did it? Kadare’s book dramatisizes the scenarios of the time before and after Shehu’s death and makes you want to try to figure out who did it –  maybe it was the current dicator? or the wife? or even the minister who until recently had been in the blackbook but benefited from Shehu’s death.  Each chapter of the book is written from the perspective of a different character making you like or dislike each as you go through – there’s even one from the murdered Shehu which gives you an idea of what must have been going through his mind during the months preceding his murder.  looking for a good read on a holiday or i definitely recommend this book.


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