“New brothel, same old whores”

Another first novel, but this from a mature writer, Patrick McGuiness is already a published poet and is also Professor of Literature at Oxford University and this is abundantly evident in the quality of the writing in this novel The Last Hundred Days

The narrator arrives for a job, for a teaching post where he even failed to attend the interview, in Bucharest.  He finds himself lodging in a fully furnished flat, furnished to the extent that even the suits fit him; his office still has the name of his predecessor and the general atmosphere is one of double meanings, hidden agendas, and duplicity.

Leo O’Heix, a colleague, takes him in hand and gradually he fumbles his way through the final days of the regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu.  Nothing is what it seems on the surface and no one is exactly clean from the corruption endemic in this rather terrible city.  The regime is tottering towards its bloody end.

The novel is full of passages of wonderful lyricism, even when describing the destruction of the architectural treasures of the city and the cynical manipulation of the system. In the final contractions of that frightful tyranny, many of the masks are removed and a new regime rises from the bloody streets and back rooms – ‘new brothel, same old whores’.

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