Le favole del comunismo

The fables of the Land of Eagles tell of donkeys, apple trees, operations aimed at saving a crazy girl with a ponytail, and of leaves that, once planted, can make not only garlic and onions sprout, but also houses. The Land of Eagles is the happiest there is. Even if there is no running water, even if there are more bunkers than cows, even if Ari’s mother left her with her grandparents because she got pregnant too young to be able to work, and even if when the wall of Berlin is nothing but an immediate end to the dictatorship: in the Land of Eagles there is only disorder and murders and men with their faces covered. Of course, when the Berlin Wall falls many people leave for Italy, heading to the opposite shore of the Land of Eagles which is the happiest of all. But Ari and her grandparents don’t, they stay. The grandparents feel too old to leave, and so Ari waits for her mother – who left on the ship that everyone else took – to come back to get her.
There are two Ari in this novel: one is the little girl who lives in Albania between the eighties and nineties, and has no shoes, because shoes must not be worn out and therefore one goes barefoot; the other is a young woman who has a lot of shoes, just as she has running water, and today lives in the center of Milan, in an elegant apartment, spending hours in the shower because organic shampoos don’t foam enough. The two look alike, partly because they are beautiful and beauty is all the same, partly because they are the same Ari.
Anita Likmeta, with tenderness and irony, with joy and ruthlessness, debuts in the novel and tells us about a childhood where, sometimes, pissing herself was the only way to warm up.