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The Successor

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  626 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
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

Hardcover, 207 pages
Published October 5th 2005 by Arcade Publishing (first published 2003)
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K.D. Absolutely
May 04, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
Based on real events, The Successor tells the story of Mehmet Shehu who was considered as the successor to the office of Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha who many people hated. However, on the night of December 13, 1981, Shehu was found dead inside his room with bolt-in lock from the inside. Despite the lock, people did not believe that it was suicide but foul play. His daughter, an architect and the minister of interior told different versions of the story based on the last interactions with Shehu ...more
Apr 08, 2013 Tony rated it liked it
Shelves: albanian
It is typical in a work of fiction to start with a disclaimer, something which includes the caveat “Names, places , and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.”

No such disclaimer here. Instead, Kadare promises “Any resemblance between the characters and circumstances of this tale and real people and events is inevitable.”

The eponym in The Successor is
Jul 12, 2009 Alta added it
The Successor is one of those rare books that can be read with equal pleasure by lovers of psychological or analytical writings, and by readers looking for “action.” Written in the form of a thriller, the novel manages in some miraculous way to go to the essence not only of Communism, but of all dictatorships, revealing with unusual psychological finesse how throughout history there are some archetypal dramas that keep repeating themselves, from Greek myths to Macbeth to the history of the Balka ...more
Nov 28, 2014 Jan rated it it was amazing
We are fortunate that Albania’s Ismail Kadare won the first Man Booker International Prize in 2005 because it resulted in his works being translated into over thirty languages and introduced to the world.

By the way, he faced serious competition for the award as the finalists included Gabriel García Márquez, Milan Kundera, Margaret Atwood, Saul Bellow, Gunther Grass, Naguib Mahfouz, Doris Lessing, Kenzaburō Ōe, Stanisław Lem, Ian McEwan, Philip Roth, Muriel Spark and John Updike. I count six Nob
Jun 08, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it
Another great book by Albanian author Ismail Kadare.

It deals with the 'disappearance' of Mehmet Shehu, Enver Hoxha's right hand man. When I visited Albania in 1984, Enver Hoxha was still alive but Shehu's face had been airbrushed out of photographs on display in museums.

The weird, frightening atmosphere of Albania, until recently the last bastion of Stalinism in Europe, is beautifully portrayed in this story.
MJ Nicholls
Read this to help clear my desk. Interesting Albanian thriller with a clever structure. I wasn’t that thrilled. The writer looks like a sinister KGB Eric Morecambe.
Jan 24, 2012 jeremy rated it liked it
Shelves: translation, fiction
the successor follows a plot thread established in agamemnon's daughter and is based on the apparent real life suicide of albanian chairman mehmet shehu. kadare's novel is a work of political intrigue and totalitarian excess framed as a murder mystery. told from multiple perspectives, the story leaves the reader, until the conclusion, questioning whether the title character has indeed killed himself or has, in fact, been a victim of the repressive communist regime. while both the plot and the pa ...more
Steve mitchell
Dec 10, 2013 Steve mitchell rated it really liked it
Albanias "succesor" gets iced out and who is to blame? At first it looks to be a suicide, but after further review someone murdered him.

But who and why for? Hmmmmmmmm. Pretty good book, not great, but good, writing is clear and a bit like a journalistic entry, just the facts mam, the political fettering is entertaining and interesting.

I will hold my judgment of Kadare for another book, at present I could take him or leave him, leaning closer to the latter at this point. Good thing for Mr. Kadare
Two years ago I read Chronicle in Stone by the same author, and thoroughly enjoyed it. This book however, did not really live up to my high expectations.
December 13, 1981, the successor to the dictator of Albania died. The initial thought was that it was a suicide, then came the thought that it might be murder. Kadare tells his story through multiple points of view, each moves the plot forward or had the opportunity to commit the murder.
Even though I didn't like this as much as Kadare's other
Jul 26, 2011 Robert rated it liked it
After reading The Successor (as an off comment this is my first Kadare) I was wondering if this was some sort of political allegory but after some research the events in this book actually did happen, so I guess there’s a more historical aspect to the novel.

The premise is simple but at the same time complex. The successor to the Albanian government is found dead in his room with a gun next to him. This triggers (no pun intended) mass speculation on whether the Successor was murdered or committed
Mar 30, 2013 Louise rated it liked it
I was reminded of the Kremlinologists, looking for clues in nods and gestures. This book succeeds in illustrating what it is like to live in this kind of environment within a smaller totalitarian state. While the average people look for clues, the leaders of the state are also in the dark and even more desperately look for clues. This is the book's strength.

The good beginning depicts the paranoia the system produces, but the narrative is weakened by dwelling on side topics. For instance, the dau
May 28, 2014 Rhys rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ismail Kadare is now one of my favourite ever writers. I only started reading him last year but his work is exactly to my taste and already I know I won't be satisfied until I have read everything of his that is available in English translation.

His style has a crystalline clarity but his themes are decidedly murky: the combination has an extremely powerful effect. The Sucessor is a novel that is related to his brilliant novella 'Agamemnon's Daughter' but it isn't quite a sequel.

The Kafkaesque ma
Jul 26, 2011 Leonard rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 18, 2016 Megan rated it did not like it
Struggled to get through the book.
Jan 27, 2017 Iro rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ismail Kadare is a very interesting author, and that is not only because he provides valuable insight to the life and history of what was until very recently (and by some still is) regarded as "Europe's last black hole", a country so secluded that it remained a dark mystery for years on end.

This book is a gateway, a guided tour, to the terrifying world of a frightening regime, and perhaps to the darkness of the paranoid minds of leaders still alive -Kim Jong Un is one that comes to mind. As suc
Wijnand Marchal
Ismael Kadare always knows how to captivate his readers with an unusual story, an intriguing plot and his distinctive narrative style. The Successor is based on a true story of the death of the heir to Albania's dictator. Kadare digs behind the causes and writes about the family of the killed man, the so-called Bllok house in which he lived and his relation to "the Guide". It is still unclear if the Successor, Mehmet Shehu, committed suicide or was murdered on that December night in 1981. Foul p ...more
Dec 09, 2016 Kenneth marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Pierre Menard
Aug 11, 2016 Pierre Menard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Who is keen on political crimes
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alfonso D'agostino
May 10, 2015 Alfonso D'agostino rated it really liked it
Seconda tappa di un viaggio che sarà (quasi) infinito: su troverete autori e libri scelti per rappresentare tutti i paesi del mondo in un “giro del mondo letterario” che è partito dall’Afghanistan con l’articolo che trovate cliccando qui.
Oggi tocca a un paese decisamente più vicino a noi, sia in termini geografici che storici: l’Albania.

Forse non tutti sanno che – direbbero sulla Settimana Enigmistica – l’Albania vanta un gigante della letteratura moderna, p
Andrea Ika
Oct 17, 2013 Andrea Ika rated it really liked it
Book Review : The Successor

Ismail Kadare

My rating

Book blurb
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.Did he commit suicide or was he murdered? That is the burning question. The man who died by his own hand, or another+s, was Mehmet Shehu, the presumed heir to the ailing dictator, Enver Hoxha. So sure was the world that he was next in line, he was known as The Successor. And then, shortly
Un bravo scrittore?
Un romanzo interessante sulla recente storia dell'Albania?
Diverse candidature al Nobel per la letteratura?
Paragonarlo a Kafka?
Eh no, questo no, suvvia! L'angoscia di Kafka sta nel subire senza sapere, l'angoscia del successore e famiglia sta nel sapere fin troppo, ma nel non avere alcun potere effettivo sugli eventi che accadranno.
Stando al retro di copertina Kadaré ricrea brillantemente l'atmosfera di cupo terrore, delazioni e recriminazioni dell'Albania
Shafeeq Valanchery
Oct 01, 2011 Shafeeq Valanchery rated it liked it
When death follows death in familiar-yet-hushed pattern as an inevitable insurmountable fact of a totalitarian state, the pall of doom is so heavy that words attain a resigned tone. Though a less developed model of shifting narrators so beautifully employed by Pamuk in My Name is Red, the narrative style of The Successor is so aloof that one gets the feeling of reading under a feverish light (well that half-dimmed light mixed with a slight uneasiness when our eyes accidentally fall on a CFL lamp ...more
Oct 04, 2016 Karen rated it it was ok
I do not know why this novel is on the list of “1,000 Books You Must Read before You Die.” I guess I am basing this thought on the fact that I found the sentences very awkward. Decided that the problem may have been due to a bad translation. Read article by translator and now see the difficulties.

Maybe the problem is my age. I remember reading Kafka when I was young and feeling that his convoluted style was necessary to match themes. Now in my seventies, I
Sep 23, 2008 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2008
In between reading The Idiot and the daunting (in size) War and Peace I pulled out The Successor by Kadare and gave it a go. It's a wonderful follow-up to the other book of his, Agamemnon's Daughter.

The Successor is a murder mystery based on the true-life death of Mehmet Shehu, the designated successor to Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha in 1981. Told using different perspectives from the family of the successor, the guide, the architect, the Dr who performed the autopsy, even, the dead successor f
Jun 04, 2011 Katherine rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
“They had feigned outrage by pounding the tabletop and making their voices quaver, but if was manifest that their hearts were as cold as damp kindling” (41-42).
“Many had not realized that it was late March, or else had forgotten the old saying according to which the third month often asks its brother February to lend it three bitter days, to chill the bones of whoever offends it” (61).
*I only recently reread 1984 and it’s astonishing to see the similarities between Orwell’s Oceania and Kadare’s
I've read Kadare's The Palace of Dreams, and I can't remember if I enjoyed it or not. But I do think it was one of the books/films that has helped cement my absolute horror for totalitarian communism. I was hoping for a similar experience with The Successor, but this one wasn't for me. It was too vague, and for someone who is pretty much the embodiment of the analyst in the book with no data on Albania, it was uninteresting. Kadare posits a killer, but I understood no motive. Or rather, I did, v ...more
Mar 01, 2011 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mid 3. This novel captures the paranoia and psychological manipulation which characterise the rule of a totalitarian regime, as Kadare provides a damning portrait of his country's oppression under 'the Guide', a fictionalised portrait of Albanian dictator, Enver Hoxha. The author weaves a plot centered on the mystery surrounding the apparent suicide of the designated successor to the regime - a plot based on real life events. The story of whether this was an opportune suicide or politically moti ...more
George Shetuni
Jun 04, 2014 George Shetuni rated it it was ok
Ismail Kadare is a very shallow writer, never thinks of anything below the surface or face value, and in “The Successor” the sequence of events was less than traceable, not to mention that he was a bit too fond of the anti-climactic device - but the book resembles “Brave New World” at moments, and it attracts; if only this atmosphere were fully realized - an actual brave new world - what a book it could have been! At any rate Kadare is a master technician of the formulation of sentences and para ...more
Dec 23, 2015 Becky rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-list-books
Another peculiar and interesting book from Ismail Kadare, this novel is set in the modern city, distant from the Albania he introduced in Broken April. While the inhabitants like to think of themselves as more cosmopolitan, the corruption is simply pushed underground. When the Successor to the President is found dead in a locked room in his house, a series of people around him try to figure out whether they were responsible for his death. Was he killed for power, love, or money? The characters a ...more
Sep 19, 2015 OMITIRAN ADEBAYO rated it it was amazing
Based on real events, The Successor tells the story of Mehmet Shehu who was considered as the successor to the office of Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha who many people hated. However, on the night of December 13, 1981, Shehu was found dead inside his room with bolt-in lock from the inside. Despite the lock, people did not believe that it was suicide but foul play. His daughter, an architect and the minister of interior told different versions of the story based on the last interactions with Shehu ...more
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Ismail Kadare (also spelled Kadaré) is an Albanian novelist and poet. He has been a leading literary figure in Albania since the 1960s. He focused on short stories until the publication of his first novel, The General of the Dead Army. In 1996 he became a lifetime member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of France. In 1992, he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca; in 2005, he wo ...more
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