After breaking ties with Yugoslavia, the USSR and then China, Enver Hoxha believed that Albania could become a self-sufficient bastion of communism. Every day, many of its citizens were thrown into prisons and forced labour camps for daring to think independently, for rebelling against the regime or trying to escape - the consequences of their actions were often tragic and irreversible.
Mud Sweeter than Honey gives voice to those who lived in Albania at that time - from poets and teachers to shoe-makers and peasant farmers, and many others whose aspirations were brutally crushed in acts of unimaginable repression - creating a vivid, dynamic and often painful picture of this totalitarian state during the forty years of Hoxha's ruthless dictatorship.
Very little emerged from Albania during communist times. With these personal accounts, Rejmer opens a window onto a terrifying period in the country's history. Mud Sweeter than Honey is not only a gripping work of reportage, but also a necessary and unique portrait of a nation.
With an Introduction by Tony Barber
*Winner of the Polityka Passport Prize**Winner of the Koscielski Award*
Translated from the Polish by Zosia Krasodomska-Jones and Antonia Lloyd-Jones
"A moving evocation of the 'everyday terror' systematically perpetrated over 41 years of Albanian communism. The author brings together survivors' accounts of life under Albania's ruthless dictator, Enver Hoxha. Despite the inevitable bleakness, the author's skillful interviewing allows those recounting their experiences to engage us in their absorbing narratives. An illuminating if harrowing insight into life in a totalitarian state. -- Clarissa de Waal ― author of ALBANIA: PORTRAIT OF A COUNTRY IN TRANSITION
Beautifully researched, the book brings back to life sufferings and hopes of traumatized families and individuals that fell victim to the heartless cogwheels of a totalitarian regime. It will help a younger generation who has not lived under Communism to understand the past, and inspire them to work to build a better future -- Gjergj Erebara ― Balkan Investigative Reporting Network
Like Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich, whose oral histories have documented political oppression, Rejmer allows the voices of everyday Albanians to reveal the privations and fear under which they lived . . . A gripping book of starkly revealing testimony ― Kirkus Review
In the style of Svetlana Alexievich, Margo Rejmer uses interviews to approach the suffering of a still little-known people . . . Rejmer's poignant book rescues memory before it fades -- MARTA REBÓN ― El País
Albania, enigmatic, mysterious Albania, was always the untold story of the Cold War, the 1989 revolutions and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Mud Sweeter Than Honey goes a very long way indeed towards putting that right. -- Charlie Connelly ― New European
[Rejmer] lets the lived experience of Albanians speak for themselves, until the whole spectrum comes into view . . . a seamless translation -- Filip Noubel ― Asymptote Journal
Tells, in their own words, the stories of Albanians during communism and especially those of prisoners of the regime. One word wrong or a friend who tries to flee and whole lives are ruined. Rejmer's is a fine collection. -- Tim Judah ― Financial Times
[An] incredibly moving collection of oral histories . . . important enough, to be added to the history curriculum -- Tim Stanley ― Telegraph
About the Author
Malgorzata (Margo) Rejmer (b. 1985) is a graduate of cultural studies at the University of Warsaw. In 2009, her first full-length novel, Toksymia, was published. In 2013, she wrote Bucharest: Dust and Blood, for which she was nominated for Polityka Passport in 2013. Mud Sweeter than Honey is her fourth book. She is now working on a follow-up reportage about contemporary Albania.