Gazmend Krasniqi was born in Shkodra and lives in Tirana. He is a writer, essayist, anthologist and literary historian. Among his publications are the poetry volumes: Në Kryqin e Dashurisë (At the Crossroads of Love); Skodrinon (Skodrinon); Poema (Poems); Toka e (pa)premtuar (The (un)promised Land); Fletorja e Poemave (The Notebook of Poems); Anthologies: Sprovë Antologjike (Experimental Anthology); Antologji e Poezisë Shqipe (Anthology of Albanian poetry), coauthor; as well as the prose works: Eldorado (El Dorado), Bar “Parajsa” (Paradise Bar ), Asgjëtë e vogla të Zotit (The Small Nothings of God), Shitësit e Apokalipsit (The Sellers of Apocalypse), Fytyra e Simurgut (The Face of Simurg), Nëse Ndonjë Ditë një Prelud (If some Day a Prelude). Krasniqi has also written plays – Qyteti pa ngjarje (The City Without Events); Metropolis (Metropolis); Koncerti (The Concert). Parts of his work are included in New European poets (USA); Galway Review: Antologia della Letteratura Albanese Contemporanea (Italy); Poésie Albanaise (Belgium); Izbor Iz Savremene Albanske Proze, Montenegro; Cobpemeha пoеэија Aлбанија, Scopje. Fellowships, Residencies (Selection) 2013 Writer in Residence, Kultur Kontakt Austria, Vienna, Austria 2010 Program “Writer in residence”, May 2010, Pecs (Hungary) – cultural capital of Europe for the year 2010. He holds a PhD. in philological sciences.
Title: Romani i lumturisë (Novel of Happiness)
Place of publication: Tirana
Year of publication: 2015
Publisher: Onufri Editions
ISBN : 978-9928-186-74-4
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The plot: Literary critics have noted that Krasniqi is interested in the manner a story is narrated rather than in the history itself, no matter how strange it may sound. He changes his style depending on the plot altering in each novel, in search of the one that suits the work. Away from prose stereotypes, language clichés and the canonical rules of writing, he uses those that may be preserved in an age that questions the power of literature.
Based on his unique authorial approach, in the Novel of Happiness, Krasniqi aims at unfolding the drama of an Albanian couple whose life transits from the period of authoritarianism to democracy. The literary proceeding in the manner of a kaleidoscope, intends to show the ordeals of facing the power of money, the weight of the past and existentialism or identity dilemmas. The novel’s central idea is that the quest of happiness defines the fate of man.
As it will be made clear later, this story originates from the image of a man who comes across a gold-hunter, and he certainly cannot resist the temptation to get the opportunity. The endeavour to shape this image did not prevent the pursuit of adventure: man is a traveller, because of the magic of the unknown, the pleasure of discovery, fascination by danger. In the beginning, I ignored the pursuit of adventure, believing that I was looking for the best way to prove that there was a gateway to a new world, but when ignored, this image haunted me with the idea that it bore a kind of mysterious power. It had to, for the sake of the latter, be transcendental.
Memory, somebody wrote, is for those who have forgotten. So, memory is for the people, because gods, who live beyond time, do not need it. We humans can make it clear that there is no difference between learning and understanding: to learn means to turn yourself into the mind of universal knowledge, because you’ve been there before. To be kindled by passion for something, after renewed memories for a past love, that is the reason why Eldorado is carried as an idea in the world for hundreds of centuries, as each new passion is a re-invigoration. Why we remember something more than anything else, is admitted even by scientists of nowadays: the brain has two memory systems, one for ordinary information and one for emotionally charged information.
Of course, I notice that the fragments (as I write) shift from one point to another, without transitional areas, the same as memory: I almost forgot that I have a story to narrate. Here it comes once again the old question: which is more important, the story or how you narrate the story? They say that the modern man does not believe in hell of Dante Alighieri, as the contemporary poet did, and this reasoning is followed by various arguments, but the memory of many people can’t be sure when is overcome with this kind of verses: cadi come corpo morto cade (It falls like a dead body, it falls). This verses music shows how important can literature be for the man: I am one of those who can recite these verses even when I am asleep. As a result, it seems that although it is not set up a monument of history, it is set up a monument of language: a strange condolence that urges you to narrate.
Only memory helps me to start this story from the beginning, exactly from the point when newspapers wrote about a girl who was with no mouth, although there were no signs of physical violence, in the ruins of a house destroyed overnight. Apparently, there was a time where new stories became quickly old ones, because, after a while, that story slipped from my memory. Just when I met the girl herself, I realized that people’s minds were bubbling with questions for this story: here comes back the memory that connects events. Only by trusting it (the memory), I undertake to narrate this story, which begins with the image of the man who comes across a gold-hunter.
For newspapers, the first girl was breaking news.
What was this story about it remains to be discovered.
ONLY MAN IS HAUNTED BY THE GOLD FEVER
(He realized that even in the shortest time possible is quite enough to make grandiose plans in his hot head, because he did not think before that gold could be extracted that easily. Before his eyes past centuries vanished and he imagined himself at the zenith of the new glory, in the all-powerful kingdom, he was seeing himself the richest man that the world had ever had (if we were alone, what would gold mean to us!).
So this story could begin in this way, but, right now, in the normal course of the narration, one unnameable thing reminds me of the Zen-Buddhist Chinese poet Chuang Tzu (he dreamed that he was a butterfly and when he woke up, he did not know if he was a man who dreamed that he was butterfly or if he was a butterfly who dreams to be the a man), because I admit that the story (which I am narrating) retains incoherence, the unusual (possibly) lack of the End, things which for the ordinary man belong only to dreams. Convinced of my inability to alienate it, to bring it to normality (some would say), I am inclined toward accepting, perhaps all in all I wanted to admit myself (I hope agree I am right) that I am real, that to free somehow myself from the anxiety of the Chinese poet, possibly I am a ghost, this is something that happened to me, sometimes, during the writing of this story, because hundreds visions of inhabited the space of the room becoming (to me) obvious to the world-apparently, uncertainty is greater than we admit ourselves.
However – this is what tricks can mind play on us for a moment – although the gold-hunter is important in this story, this is not his story, but the story of the man who owns it, something which, I believe, will be further on the task of literature because it is clear that gold fever haunts only the man (at least, it must occur so in the story we are narrating).
And when you think that in the past we have made to mind so many oblations of praise!
The extract is translated from the Albanian by Granit Zela