Free: Coming of Age at the End of History (Paperback)Lea Ypi (author)
- Save £1.50
- 10+ in stock
Questioning the true nature of freedom in moving, thoughtful prose, Ypi's unflinching memoir documents a childhood in the shadow of the oppressive Stalinist Albanian regime and an adulthood in the uncertainty and tumult that followed the fall of Communism.
Waterstones Non-Fiction Book of the Month for June 2022
Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2021
Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2021
'I never asked myself about the meaning of freedom until the day I hugged Stalin. From close up, he was much taller than I expected.'
Lea Ypi grew up in one of the most isolated countries on earth, a place where communist ideals had officially replaced religion. Albania, the last Stalinist outpost in Europe, was almost impossible to visit, almost impossible to leave. It was a place of queuing and scarcity, of political executions and secret police. To Lea, it was home. People were equal, neighbours helped each other, and children were expected to build a better world. There was community and hope.
Then, in December 1990, a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, everything changed. The statues of Stalin and Hoxha were toppled. Almost overnight, people could vote freely, wear what they liked and worship as they wished. There was no longer anything to fear from prying ears. But factories shut, jobs disappeared and thousands fled to Italy on crowded ships, only to be sent back. Predatory pyramid schemes eventually bankrupted the country, leading to violent conflict. As one generation's aspirations became another's disillusionment, and as her own family's secrets were revealed, Lea found herself questioning what freedom really meant.
Free is an engrossing memoir of coming of age amid political upheaval. With acute insight and wit, Lea Ypi traces the limits of progress and the burden of the past, illuminating the spaces between ideals and reality, and the hopes and fears of people pulled up by the sweep of history.
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 259 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 19 mm
'If you read one memoir this year, let it be this' - Sunday Times
'A magical, timeless and important account of what life was really like under communism. Free brims with diamond-studded details, it lays bare the compromises, fear and betrayals of a secret police state, but is also an uplifting and humorous reminder of how much the human spirit can endure' - Alec Russell, Financial Times
'Lea Ypi's Free is the first book since Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend that I have pressed on family, friends and colleagues, insisting they read it... a truly riveting memoir and a profound meditation on what it means to be free' - Ruth Scurr, Spectator
'Enthralling... a classic in the making' - David Abulafia, TLS
'Ypi's deliciously smart memoir of her Albanian girlhood at the end of the Cold War is a brilliant disquisition on the meanings of freedom - its lures, false hopes, disappointments and possibilities - in our time' - Lyndsey Stonebridge, New Statesman
'A tart and tender childhood memoir. But also a work of social criticism, and a meditation on how to live with purpose... a quick read, but like Marx's spectre haunting Europe, it stays with you' - The New Yorker
You may also be interested in...
Lea Ypi grew up in one of the most isolated countries on earth, a place where communist ideals had officially replaced religion. Albania, the last Stalinist outpost in Europe, was almost impossible to visit, almost... More
Free by Lea Ypi
Lea tells her biography ( readers will get it ! ) in such a way that you can actually feel her emotions of the time told. At times funny , heartbreak , funny , and also perilous and frightening .
“Fascinating window on a piece of modern history”
‘We lived in the same place but in different worlds. These worlds overlapped only briefly and, when they did, we saw things through different eyes.’
A fascinating account of life in Enver Hoxha’s Albania, and... More
Please sign in to write a review
Would you like to proceed to the App store to download the Waterstones App?
Alternatively, for multiple items you may find it easier to add to basket, then pay online and collect in as little as 2 hours, subject to availability.