The Last Hundred Days
- Poetry Wales Press
- Publication Date:
- 01 June 2011
- Modern & Contemporary
Showing 1-3 out of 3 reviews.
Bucharest, 1989. A young British student flies to the Romanian capital to accept a university position that he was not interviewed for, and he does not understand what is expected of him. He is met at the airport by Leo O'Helix a foreign 'professor' who becomes his mentor and closest confidant, although Leo's teaching responsibilities are a cover for illegal activities that make him a wealthy and respected man. Romania is in a state of increasing crisis, as freedom movements are taking place throughout the communist world, while Nicolae Ceaușescu, one of the last Eastern European dictators, seeks to hold onto power by fear and violent suppression. The narrator is introduced to several young underground activists by Leo, and he meets the beautiful Westernized daughter of a powerful minister, with whom he falls in love. He also befriends a retired government official, and helps him to write a secret memoir that is highly critical of the Ceaușescu regime.As the year progresses, the Ceaușescus' hold on power weakens, which leads to increased crackdowns on dissidents and repression of ordinary Romanians. The narrator finds himself in increasing danger, despite his ties to the British embassy and his friends, as the Securitate is aware of his friends and activities that support the removal of Ceaușescu from poewr. <i>The Last Hundred Days</i> was an unusual selection for this year's Booker Prize longlist, but it is a thriller that deserved to be there, and it should have been selected for the shortlist, as well. McGuinness, who lived in Romania during the end of the Ceaușescu regime, paints a compelling and convincing portrait of communist Romania, a country where ordinary citizens queue for hours in line without knowing what, if anything, awaits them, whose citizens routinely die of starvation, and where historic churches and other buildings are torn down and replaced with concrete, poorly built monstrosities. This was an impressive debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from its talented author.
Very tedious and entirely lacking in any characters for whom one could feel any empathy. Far too heavily steeped in melancholia and squalor, and I get more than enough of them at home!
Long-listed for the Man-Booker - Can't think why, it should have won! A Beautifully written political thriller set in the dying days of Ceausescu's Romania, occasionally very funny but ultimately profoundly moving.
Reviews provided by Librarything.
No reviews here.