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The Successor

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3.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  567 Ratings  ·  55 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 s
...more
Paperback, 207 pages
Published March 12th 2008 by Arcade Publishing (first published 2003)
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K.D. Absolutely
Jan 27, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it
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
Tony
Apr 11, 2013 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Alta
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
Adam
Jun 08, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
jeremy
Jan 25, 2012 jeremy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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Louise
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
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Rhys
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
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Alfonso D'agostino
Seconda tappa di un viaggio che sarà (quasi) infinito: su http://j.mp/giro-del-mondo-letterario 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
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Megan
Mar 30, 2016 Megan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Struggled to get through the book.
Roberta
Un bravo scrittore?
Certo.
Un romanzo interessante sulla recente storia dell'Albania?
Certo.
Diverse candidature al Nobel per la letteratura?
Meritate.
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
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Leonard
Jul 29, 2011 Leonard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
George Shetuni
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
OMITIRAN ADEBAYO
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
Becky
Dec 23, 2015 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aanchal Anand
Jul 24, 2015 Aanchal Anand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based loosely on the unsolved murder-suicide of Albania's Mehmet Shehu, The Successor is sublime and chaotic. The book drifts in and out of dreams and reality to deliver an authoritative account of life under communism. The dialogue on inner and outer blood (P97) dissects the human bonds in a communist system. The last chapter when you finally hear from the dead Successor is simple yet exhilarating. In the words of 'The Spectator', "The Successor [is] a brilliant autopsy on the corpse of a ghast ...more
Katherine
Jun 09, 2011 Katherine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Brian
Nov 11, 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
...more
Shafeeq Valanchery
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
Andrea Ika
Oct 17, 2013 Andrea Ika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Chaitra
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
James Sajo
At first, I was not sure about "The Successor." It seemed the translation was clunky. But as it is a book that has won some pretty impressive recognition, I figured I'd better push on.

Glad I did. It is a terrifically interesting story, well told. The characters were interesting, the suspense compelling, and the descriptions inspired.

Read it.

Diogenes
3.5 stars : 2015 translation of the 2003 novel of Albanian political reality in ironic, satiric and fantasy form. Interesting for its form (it speaks in characters' voices, both live and dead) and for the political history interwoven in loosely disguised fact, mocking the rigid dogma of Balkan communism.
Adam Gower
Sep 28, 2014 Adam Gower rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't enjoy the set up, found some of the character information irrelevant, can understand the need to show what makes people tick, but there just was not enough going on for me to necessitate all the information I did not care about. Found the prose a bit dull and the arc a bit turgid.

Lastly, i'm all for a bit of local history when reading an international author, but his writing came across self important at times when looking at the Albanian political structure.
Vilis
Sep 19, 2014 Vilis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Izcils romāns par diktatūras paranoju, kas lasās kā krimiķis, bet atstāj nesalīdzināmi dziļāku un daudzslāņaināku pēcgaršu. Partijas "augša" brīžiem atgādina ņe to gotiskā romāna, ņe to fantasy ļaunuļus, bet beigās izrādās tuvāka Kafkas murgiem.
Bruce Baker
He is jaded by the loss of a communist government. The practice was awful but he still believes in it. He is disappointed. He is disgusted.

The ending is sad. It shows belief in the concept over people.
Steve
Aug 13, 2015 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
Kingfan30
Oct 22, 2014 Kingfan30 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
An interesting book in some respects, but I could not get my head around the Albanian politics. I liked the idea of the way the story was put together but actually the ending was quit obvious.
Jacek
May 13, 2014 Jacek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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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