Forgiveness Of Blood

Posted on Aug 18, 2012 | 0 comments

Leke Dukagjini, author of the Kanun, the ancient code of Albanian law


I recently got an email from my friend, Antonia Young, English author (Women Who Become Men), ethnographer of Albania, and president of the Balkans Peace Park Project-UK (of which I am a member). It carried a review from the Financial Times of Joshua Marston’s recent movie Forgiveness of Blood.

I was saddened to see that both the movie and the review, as well as a New York Times review I’ve linked to below, support the claim that blood feuds are not disappearing in Albania.


“Some Albanians,” write Financial Times reviewers Carne Ross and Ardian Arifaj, “believe the film may help accelerate the demise of blood feuds. Others however, perhaps more plausibly, observe that Kanun has survived for centuries, outliving Ottoman occupation, communism and 45 years of dictatorship by Enver Hoxha, who boasted that he had eradicated it. Kanun lives on even after 20 years of constitutional democracy. It’s hard to see how one film, however powerful, can loosen its hold.”


I remembered reading Ismail Kadare’s Broken April, written in 1982 and set in the early 1900’s. It tells a story eerily similar to this year’s movie.

However, I was gratified to see that the take of the movie and of both reviews on the blood feud are much the same as mine in my novel Spinning Wool.


The Financial Times reviewer struck further chords with me when he said of the film, “Its context is local; its message, universal.” That is exactly what I strove for in Spinning Wool, to show the story of one particular Albanian-American woman—in Albania where the stark options highlight the courage of her choices—as she wrestles her way through cultural imperatives to make the kind of individual choice we must all make in some way to become our own human beings.


I was particularly touched to read in the Financial Times review that the family of one of the actors in the film had actually taken the step of refusing to perpetuate the cycle of violence by retaliating when his brother was murdered.


I can’t wait to see the film. I’ve already preordered it from Amazon.

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