One of the joys of the writing group is sharing the books and authors we love. This week Frank McMahon spoke about FREE by Lea Ypi, an autobiography about her childhood in Albania between 1988 and 1997.
Frank said: ‘She tries ( and in my view succeeds ) to capture her voice and her inner world in writing about her extended family with its “ biographies”, the neighbourhood, and her school, in the period when Enver Hoxha was the leader of a rigidly socialist state.
‘Her grandmother to whom the book is dedicated is lovingly described and comes over as a significant role model for Lea.
‘And after 1989 when the Berlin Wall falls and when Albania moves towards an uncertain democracy, she discovers the coded language of her parents and other adults to find a way of speaking freely and safely. So this is, in part, a book about the loss of certainties and the questions that adolescents in any society pose about their parents and the world.
‘The book is also a meditation on the nature of freedom in a totalitarian state and in an open society.’
Lea Ypi is a Professor of Political Theory at the LSE and has never returned to Albania.