Sunday, August 24, 2008

For December: The Successor by Ismail Kadare

For December, we have selected The Successor by Ismail Kadare:
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 before he was to assume power, he was found dead. THE SUCCESSOR is simultaneously a mystery novel, an historical novel-based on actual events and buttressed by the author's private conversations with the son of the real-life Mehmet Shehu-and a psychological novel (How do you live when nothing is sure?). Vintage Kadare, THE SUCCESSOR seamlessly blends dream and reality, legendary past, and contemporary history.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

For November: The Art of Political Murder

For November, we have selected Francisco Goldman's The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop

Bishop Juan Gerardi, Guatemala’s leading human rights activist, was bludgeoned to death in his garage on a Sunday night in 1998, two days after the presentation of a groundbreaking church-sponsored report implicating the military in the murders and disappearances of some two hundred thousand civilians. Realizing that it could not rely on police investigators or the legal system to solve the murder, the church formed its own investigative team, a group of secular young men in their twenties who called themselves Los Intocables (the Untouchables). Known in Guatemala as “The Crime of the Century,” the Bishop Gerardi murder case, with its unexpectedly outlandish scenarios and sensational developments, confounded observers and generated extraordinary controversy. In his first nonfiction book, acclaimed novelist Francisco Goldman has spoken to witnesses no other reporter has reached, and observed firsthand some of the most crucial developments in the case. Now he has produced The Art of Political Murder, a tense and astonishing true detective story that opens a window on the new Latin American reality of mara youth gangs and organized crime, and tells the story of a remarkable group of engaging, courageous young people, and of their remarkable fight for justice.

Our August Author

A few links for our August author, Jo Nesbø, and our August selection, The Redbreast.

Random House has a reader's guide with a short interview,
What could get you arrested?

You mean; what got me arrested? Well, dropping my pants and mooning for a passing police car when I was eighteen. A bit drunk and nothing I'm very proud of, but it gave me the chance to do some research. I know what the inside of a cell looks like.
And here's a Washington Post profile with some insight into the author's literary influences and the novel's Norwegian roots,
For instance, this sentence is making a sort of class judgment about a character: "Meirik was from Tromso and spoke a strangely haphazard mixture of Tromso dialect and standard Norwegian."

But unless you know Norwegian geography, and know that Nynorsk and Bokmal are the two official languages of the country — and whatever one you speak says something about where you grew up — the detail would zip right past most readers.
Finally, this BBC item suggests the reality behind one of the novel's themes.
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