Penguin Press is offering reading groups the chance to win 10 copies of the Free, the Sunday Times-bestseller and Ondaatje Prize-winning memoir about growing up in one of the most isolated countries on earth by Lea Ypi.
‘Wonderfully funny and poignant … a tale of family secrets and political awakening amid a crumbling regime. One of the nonfiction titles of the year’ – Luke Harding, Observer
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, 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.
How to get involved
To be in with a chance of winning 10 copies of Free to read and review with your reading group, please log in and complete the survey below by Tuesday 19 July. If successful, each of your members will be expected to share a review on Amazon, Goodreads, Waterstones or the Reading Groups for Everyone website within eight weeks of receiving the books. Please only pitch if you can commit to this.
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