If you haven't read the Visar Zhiti novel yet, "The endless funeral", hurry to find a copy. If the book is no longer in circulation, immediately ask the publisher to publish more. If the republication takes time, write me that I send you mine.
The sooner you read it, the more you will benefit. Let's clarify something right away, it's not a fun novel. Despite this, or rather, precisely because of this, you will have to read the Abyssal Funeral as soon as possible. Do not follow my advice and probably without realizing it, you will continue sleepwalking to be part of a funeral, attached to it from birth. Maybe you were born in this funeral or maybe it's yours. Perhaps you are the corpse that the others accompany to the grave or perhaps you are the corpse and member of the procession at the same time.
In this novel, Zhiti confesses to us Albanians things that traditionally we don't like to hear, see and accept, especially when it comes to common sins.
Like any valuable work, this novel offers readers therapeutic treatment. It would allow you to recognize yourself, perhaps more than in any other book you have read so far.
Like a Freud of letters, Zhiti directs the reader with competence, sympathy, but repeatedly insistently in the dark labyrinths of consciousness and subconsciousness.
With Zhiti, Albanian literature found a new genre of narrative, which was perfected by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.
Writers like Visar Zhiti are very talented, to be released from prison. Even when such artists pay their "deserved" punishment for "conspiracies" by manipulating the word, the most dangerous weapon possessed by us humans, should be closed forever in the Tower of Forgetfulness. For the latter we have the merit, in particular the Albanian literary criticism.
If you wait to be informed by Albanian literary critics for an extraordinary book like this, it is likely that you will remain undisturbed in your ignorance for a long time to come. Albanian literary criticism, which for now is in a vegetative state, still has a long way to go to establish itself as an authentic art and science in itself.
Albanian criticism would have lifted this novel to heaven, only if it had attracted the attention of Western critics. Currently it is not probable because Zhiti is not interested in dealing with folkloristic and exotic subjects that Westerners interested in Albania and Albanians, as always, continue to have them very much at heart. Zhiti is a very serious writer to write only to attract attention and secure approval from foreign critics. Some Albanian writers, experts or young people, who seem to measure success with opinions from the other side of the Adriatic, will have to learn from Zhiti's dignity and professional integrity.
If we think that this work had to be publicized by the Albanian government, in our times this is no longer possible. Albanian writers and artists are treated by the political establishment as illegitimate and abandoned children. The moment when the Albanian state will understand how important it is to invest to guarantee writers such as Zhiti decent conditions to continue creativity, unfortunately, it still seems far away.
Although not in optimum condition, Zhiti continues to write works that are national heritage. This is probably the most original novel published in the Albanian language in the last two decades. Even with this work alone, Zhiti ranks among the classics of contemporary Albanian literature. Even if the work has gone almost unnoticed and the few comments made underline that it is a novel against the communist dictatorship.
To a certain extent, this work by Zhiti is indeed a novel against the dictatorship. Zhiti fiercely reveals the dictatorship which is not only the communist dictatorship. Like any writer, Zhiti reflects personal experience in his works. Like any great writer, he does not become his prisoner, but uses it as a platform to tackle important issues relating to the Albanian nation and beyond.
Zhiti's novel focuses, among other things, on the fundamental question of man's relationship with the state as an instrument of strength and totalitarianism. These characteristics are typical of the state, in every social system, including democratic states.
Zhiti wrote an original work, both modernist and post-modernist from the concept and execution of the artistic and philosophical message. This novel can be worthily compared with some of the best works by authors such as Kafka, Orwell, Salinger, Heller and Solzhenicin. Given the history of the Albanian novel "The endless funeral" it is a success for Albanian literature and culture.
The fact that this novel is written by a talented poet like Zhiti makes it even more special. This is the first successful novel in Albanian language composed of free verses in which the message, the language, the richness and the depth of thought can be compared to works like "The desolate land" by TS Elliot.
The peculiarity of this poem novel is that, even if life is like a procession of vanity, Zhiti does not lose faith in humanity, in the vitality of man even in situations where it seems that reason is dead. Zhiti finds the meaning and transforms into art the darker sides of human reality. Like any masterpiece that focuses on the theme of pessimism, an elegant vein of optimism runs through it.
Zhiti's novel is another success of Albanian literature, for which we should all be happy, especially Kadare. For more than four decades, Kadare has been sad in his loneliness. I do not say that Zhiti is the new Kadare. It would be inaccurate and reductive for both Kadare and Zhiti. There is no need to measure the value and authenticity of our writers with the success of Kadare. Kadare is a unique phenomenon in Albanian literature. When we talk about the value of talented writers like Zhiti, we must not start with the premise of finding a new Kadare in their works. We don't need a new Kadare. To no country and to no literature do they serve a literary group.
When this work is translated into the main European languages, particularly in English, Zhiti will be considered a new promising contemporary writer. With writers like Kadare and Zhiti, Albanian and Balkan literature is represented worthily in the world.
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