From the Man Booker International Prize-winner, a parable of totalitarianism set during the latter part of Albania's decades-long Stalinist dictatorship about a writer caught up in a governmental investigation of a young woman's suicide.
A Girl in Exile is the work of a historic talent who is still at the peak of his power. It confirms Kadare to be the best writer at work today who remembers—almost aggressively so, refusing to forget—European totalitarianism. Kadare tackles Albania’s specific strangeness with a ferocious rigor that would feel scientific if it were not for the haunted, haunting humans he writes into being. Albania is a different country now, but the way it exists for Kadare will continue to exist as long as he writes. Ghosts do not die.
""A Girl in Exile is a compelling amalgam of realism, dreaminess and elegiac, white-hot fury. Kadare communicates with awful immediacy the nature of tyranny and the accommodations that those subject to it must make — as Kadare himself had to do. After reading it, one feels like giving four cheers for poor old battered democracy.""
[Kadare] returns again and again to the legends around Orpheus, for example, his addition of two strings to the traditional lyre — in Kadare’s telling, a radical breakthrough that causes a bureaucratic hubbub in Olympus. The author doesn’t tether his own story to the classical one too tightly, but the parallels are obvious — for Rudian with his forbidden ghost; and for Kadare, who once spirited his messages past Communist censors. The two extra strings may signify more than the headaches of writers, however. Perhaps they create an altogether new sound, beyond the range of human hearing. It is, after all, the vibration that lulled Cerberus, the hound of Hades, and rescued Orpheus’ beloved Eurydice from the underworld.