Title: Kukullat nuk kanë Atdhe ( Dolls Without a Homeland )
Author: Flutura Açka
Place of publication: Tirana
Publication date: 2013
Publisher: Skanderbeg Books
© all rights reserved to the author and “Skanderbeg Books” Publishing House email@example.com
Subject: Is this the homeland we deserve? This is the question that the main character will ponder to himself and to others. The event kicks off in the capital, during a midnight, a woman who has dedicated her whole life to puppets, decides to raise her creations into real life, giving them breath, and making them part of a living world. In their new life, they are a group of women and girls – mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, girlfriends, lovers, toy girls – which will have to struggle to create and preserve their identity, since their community does not care to know who they are, what they feel, what they want and what they are capable of doing. In the chaos of this society’s transition, they try to rebuild their lives (in compliance with a democracy open to corruption, pollution, moral injustice, but hidden within cheerful European colors), stings of life of the characters of this novel, men and women, will be conjoint to describe the fate and fatality of their own life in a detailed manner, exactly in the the heart of the homeland, where politics polices, where opinions are constructed, where the fate of Albanians from the new century is decided. “Dolls have no homeland” is a novel about family, love, about freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of sex, and above all, about the right to a life, to question during times of moral and political turbulence. Homeland, in the expressive architecture of a satirical and dramatic story, comes realistically and inalienably.
“Look, this is my present for you. You always wanted your freedom. Well, here you have it. This is freedom. Savour it as if it were the last day of your life. Buy whatever you wish, go wherever you want. I hope you can forgive me. Let us start all over again. I realise I have hurt your feelings from time to time, but you have hurt mine, too. I hope you’ll feel like a princess today, like one of those princesses that lived here in centuries past, waiting in line to be Casanova’s mistresses. But of course only Casanova’s mistresses, not lovers of the poor wretches here today, all of these poetasters dreaming of the women they will never have. Casanova may be the model of masculinity, but he must have had a weak spot somewhere, a woman he loved more than the others. The future depends on you alone, my rebel princess! There is only one way out, and that is to forget everything. You have to forget and begin from the start. With me at your side. There is no other way.”
He put his arms around her and laid her in the elongated, dark-wooded gondola draped in deep-red velvet. The gondolier bowed and raised his hat in respect to the gentiluomo holding the princess in his arms. But she revealed returned no smile. If she had not been clutching onto her black handbag, the gondolier would have thought he was laying a puppet in the gondola. How fair she was, yet how frail. Her eyes were turned to the water, an empty glance, and the gondolier understood it was no time for jokes. He understood that the princess was not interested in any explanations of what lay on the two sides of the Canal Grande, in all the glories of Venice that enthralled all the other visitors. She was a lady who had had her fill of the beauties of this world and was completely bored by its presence. Perhaps this obstinate puppet, this moody mannequin in front of him, was an educated woman. He did not like that sort of woman, but he would do his job the best he could, not only for the money but because he was seduced by the boredom in her eyes.
The gondola glided through the waves. Puppet No. 13 observed the other darkly draped boats passing by her in the opposite direction, gently, one by one in order to avoid collision. The passing gondoliers gave him a jealous smile as they observed him bending over towards his fair yet indifferent passenger.
“As if it were the last day of your life… You always wanted your freedom… Feel like a princess today.” These words echoed in her mind, but Puppet No. 13 was afraid to pronounce them, afraid even to think about what was worrying her. She had no more strength after that long sleepless night, after that night of silence, of deep thoughts and concerns that disturbed her reasoning.
The extract is translated from the Albanian by Robert Elsie