The Country Where No One Ever Dies

Overview

A young girl's father is constantly forcing her to kiss him, and her aunt predicts that she will grow up to be a whore. With Albania's communist regime crumbling around them, sex, dictatorship, and death are inescapable subjects for the girl and her family -- though the protagonist of The Country Where No One Ever Dies always confronts the ridiculousness of her often brutal reality with unflappable irony and a peculiar kind of common sense. Her name and age changing from moment to moment, she is an unforgettable ...

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Overview

A young girl's father is constantly forcing her to kiss him, and her aunt predicts that she will grow up to be a whore. With Albania's communist regime crumbling around them, sex, dictatorship, and death are inescapable subjects for the girl and her family -- though the protagonist of The Country Where No One Ever Dies always confronts the ridiculousness of her often brutal reality with unflappable irony and a peculiar kind of common sense. Her name and age changing from moment to moment, she is an unforgettable portrait of the imagination under siege, while The Country Where No One Ever Dies is itself a one-of-a-kind atlas to a land where black comedy is simply a way of life.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Editorial Reviews

Josh Maday - The Collagist
“Ornela Vorpsi’s unforgettable first novel pulses with an undercurrent of black energy, thick with sarcasm, cynicism, and, in the end, a recognizably tender and wounded humanity.”
Le Figaro Magazine
“Filled with poetic and gracious sentences. . . . Read her, this novel is delightful.”
Le Monde
“Both ironic and lucid, Ornela Vorpsi’s prose is as lively as she is.”
Publishers Weekly
This slender sendup of life in rural Albania under the Communist regime offers a hilarious look into a simple, uneducated people's mores and passionate natures. Narrated by a girl who lives with her beautiful, unhappy mother while her father is imprisoned for absurd “political” reasons, the punchy vignettes treat aspects of village life that center on a sunny lassitude and a preoccupation with ensuring a girl preserves her “immaculate flower”; the local school, where the narrator is punished by her zealous Communist teacher; the sad fates of neighbors; and the narrator's uneasy relationship with her absent father, whom she recalls as brutal and a slobbering kisser (“Why did I bother giving you life if I can't even give you a kiss?”). Books offer her the prospect of escape, and our intrepid protagonist procures them by offering a venal elementary school teacher her mother's jewelry in exchange for access to “the great stockpile of dreams.” Vorpsi cleverly melds old wives' tales, a child's naïveté and sharp-edged irony for a not-so-gentle skewering of her homeland. (Nov.)
Le Magazine Litteraire
Ornela Vorpsi opposes the coherence and continuity of her narrative to the madness of her dysfunctional family and of a totalitarian government for which brutal deaths and malevolence are common practice.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564785688
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 11/17/2009
  • Series: Eastern European Literature Series
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 120
  • Sales rank: 821,040
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Ornela Vorpsi was born in Tirana, Albania and now lives in Paris. The Country Where No One Ever Dies was her first novel and won several prizes in Italy, including the Grinzane Cavour and Viareggio Prizes. It has since been published in fourteen languages.

Robert Elsie is the author of fifty books on Albania and its culture, including numerous literary translations from Albanian.

Janice Mathie-Heck is a poet, translator, editor, and literary critic. Most recently, her essay on the poetry of Visar Zhiti appeared in Mehr Licht!.

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