Ismail Kadare: Articulating Albanian Identity

Today is the birthday of one of the most creative Albanian minds that we are proud of in the world today.

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Ismail Kadare, winner of a series of prestigious international awards celebrates his 85th birthday today. His literary creativity began in 1957, when he was just a high school student, and then did not stop evolving. He has received a host of literary awards throughout his life that only recently (2020) the Neudstadt International Prize for Literature for his work "Broken April". The person who nominated Kadare to win this award said:


“Kadare is the successor of Franz Kafka. No one since Kafka has delved into the infernal mechanism of totalitarian power and its impact on the human soul in as much hypnotic depth as Kadare. Having lived in just such a surveillance state for the first decades of his life – he was born in Albania, a hermetically sealed communist state until 1991 where, under dictator Enver Hoxha, labor camp sentences and executions of dissenters were routine – writing was the only form of resistance available to him, because it was the only form of truth-telling that could survive – though not always in print. He emigrated to France in the 1990s, when the country’s borders opened.” – Kapka Kassabova, Kadare’s nominating juror.

Kadare left seeking political asylum and there his hand and mind poured furiously all the repressed talent for years and years. Many of his books that were not allowed to be published in Albania (or at least not without making radical political changes) in France he had the opportunity to publish them as he had in 45 different languages of the world. The strength of such a writer is the best lobbying for the exaltation of our name.

 “If an animal has to be sacrificed when a new bridge is built,
what will it take to build a whole new world?”
Ismail Kadare

 

For his artistic mastery he has won several awards and honorary titles in Albania, France and beyond. The survival, development and excellence of his work are a great national treasure of all Albanians, especially considering how close the house where he spent his youth and that of the dictator are. We highly suggest you visit this museum house that is easily located in the city of Gjirokastra.

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January 28, 2021 — Esmeralda Perseku