Excerpt from Agamemnon's Daughter by Ismail Kadare, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Agamemnon's Daughter

A Novella and Stories

by Ismail Kadare

Agamemnon's Daughter
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Nov 2006, 240 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

In early winter, the sightless suddenly began congregating on sidewalks and in cafés. Their fumbling steps caused passersby to stop and stare in disbelief. Although citizens had lived for months in fear of the qorrfirman, the sight of its results rooted them to the ground, petrified them.

For some time people had allowed themselves to think that the victims of that notorious order had been swallowed up in the dark night of oblivion, that the only people you would come across in the street or the square were the formerly blind, with their unchanging appearance, the peaceful tap-tap-tap of their sticks— the kind of blind people everyone’s eyes and ears were long accustomed to. But now the first winter freeze had brought with it innumerable blind folk of a new and far more lugubrious kind.

There was something specific about them that distinguished them from the traditionally unsighted. They had a disturbing swagger, and their sticks made a menacing knock-knock-knock on the cobblestones.

They’ve not yet grown used to their new condition, some argued. Blindness came to them at a stroke, not gradually, as is usually the case, so they haven’t yet acquired the necessary reflexes . . . But those who heard such remarks shook their heads, clearly not convinced. Could that be the only reason?

What was most striking was their collective reappearance. It was probably not a coincidence, nor could it have been the result of secret collusion among them, contrary to the rumors that were being circulated by people who saw anti-state conspiracies in everything and anything. It came from the simple fact that the time needed for most of them to recover — either from the physical wounds caused by disoculation or from its attendant psychological trauma — had now elapsed.

Some among them, particularly those who had been blinded in the aristocratic manner, by exposure to the sun, bore a grave and dignified air as they went and sat down in cafés and tearooms. It was presumably easier for them to behave with hauteur, not just because of the cash bonus and the generous pension they had been granted but because their eyes had not been physically mutilated when they were blinded. On the other hand, most of the others had let themselves go. They were dressed in rags, and by way of footwear all they had were wooden clogs, which made the sound of their approach particularly distressing.

But those who had been unsighted by violent means were not the only ones to look wretched. Even some who had turned themselves in to the qorroffices and been received with all due honor were now shuffling around in tatters. Similarly, there were a number of well-dressed people — better dressed than they had been before— among those who had been disoculated violently. They stood defiantly in full sight of all, as if to challenge the world with their black and empty sockets.

At the sight of these gaping wounds, some people were so disturbed they themselves began to stumble, as if the ground had suddenly opened up beneath them.

Why do they have to show themselves like that? people wondered. Why aren’t they forbidden access to main roads, to stop them curdling our blood with those ghastly holes in their heads?

The blind paid not the slightest heed to remarks of that kind. Not content to stay at tearoom and café tables for hours on end, they listened to the news read aloud from papers at nearby tables, and joined in the conversation. Fortunately, public affairs were taking a better turn nowadays, they would say, proving that their sacrifice had not been in vain. What a pity we can’t see what’s going on! some of them lamented over and over again. But that doesn’t really matter in the end. Even if we can’t see, we can imagine what it’s like, and we’re just as pleased about it as you are.

Some of them remained silent, black as crows, while others, taking up the tradition of the blind, got hold of a musical instrument and accompanied themselves as they sang epic rhymes or love songs of their own composition.

  • 1
  • 2

From Agamemnon’s Daughter: A Novella and Stories, copyright © 1993, 2003 by Librairie Arthème Fayard. English-language copyright © 2006 by David Bellos. Published by arrangement with Arcade Publishing and the Wylie Agency, Inc.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers were uniformly impressed by this difficult yet heartwarming ...
  • Book Jacket: Boy Erased
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley
    Growing up in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley did not quite fit the mold of his strait-laced, ...
  • Book Jacket: The Bones of Grace
    The Bones of Grace
    by Tahmima Anam
    The Bones of Grace completes Tahmima Anam's Bangladesh trilogy. The three novels, which can be ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach

    "An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut." - Kirkus, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Underground Airlines
    by Ben Winters

    "The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate history thriller." - PW Star

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.