If you were asked to expand your knowledge of the world by learning about new things or traveling to new places, you’d probably say yes. But if you were told that these things would change you. That these things would cause you to think in a new way. Believe in a new way. Become distanced from your family and closest friends because of this new way of thinking. Then you might think twice.
I read Party Headquarters and Every Day is for The Thief back to back for no reason beyond that they were next to each other on my bookshelf and when I went to grab one I grabbed the other one, too. But, as the book gods must have planned, reading them together actually brought to mind a larger question about revolutions, personal and national. Both narratives are led by unnamed narrators who tell the story of revolutions that changed their lives.
Party Headquarters (an English translation of Tenev’s Bulgarian original), is about the fall of communism in Bulgaria, the possible conspiracy that led to the Party Leader’s death, and what this has all meant for the narrator.
Ever Day is for The Theif (which I believe is also an English translation of the original, but a translation of the author’s own work), is about an unnamed narrator coming back to Africa after years of living in New York, and what it means to come back to your home changed.
Maybe it’s our own fractious political climate right now, but there’s something almost contentious about having your ideals and beliefs changed. Maybe it’s watching an old regime fall out of power that makes you want to change sides. Maybe it’s living in a way your family never dreamed of. Maybe it’s just the slow growing apart of you and your past. Change is hard. Changing yourself is harder. Admitting the difference to the people you loved before is, maybe, the hardest of all.