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Ismail Kadaré (n. Gjirokastra, Albania, January 28, 1936) is one of the most famous Albanian writers in the world. He has been awarded the Booker International Prize and the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature.
From a family of modest officials, he was born in 1936 in Gjirokastra, also called Argirocastro, a city-museum mountain in southern Albania, in the interior, capital of the ancient region of Epirus. His family was a lay Muslim, from the heterodox and liberal sect of the Bektashi. His father was very conservative, but his uncles, very cultured and possessing a large library, adhered to communism; He lived as a child during the Second World War, in which his hometown was successively occupied by Italians, Greeks, reactionary Albanian forces and the German Nazis. Finally it was liberated by the Albanian partisans. These events were narrated or alluded to in several of his works. He studied at the Faculty of History and Philology at the University of Tirana, and at the Maksim Gorki Institute of Literature in Moscow, until 1960.
That same year, after the rupture of relations between Albania and the Soviet Union, he returns to his country where he practices journalism in various newspapers and cultural supplements; He was editor in chief of the French-language newspaper Les Lettres Albanaises. He publishes his first poems, influenced by the Albanian poet Lagush Poradeci. At this time, during a trip to Prague, he thought about exiling himself, but he regretted it at the last minute. With his first novel, The General of the Dead Army, written at age twenty-seven and published in 1963, he gets recognition inside and outside his country as one of the most talented Albanian writers. Since then he has regularly published numerous titles that have placed him as one of the most important European writers of the 20th century; among them stand out The Palace of Dreams, Broken April, The Monster or The Drums of Rain. His work has been translated into more than 40 languages.
In the 1970s he was a deputy in the People’s Assembly, the Albanian parliament during the socialist regime.
In 1990, just before the fall of communism in Albania, Kadaré applied for asylum in France, stating that “dictatorships and authentic literature are incompatible … A writer is the natural enemy of a dictatorship.” Kadaré remained in France until 1999, when he returns to Albania.
Kadaré is probably the most important intellectual in Albania and one of the most active in Europe, where his active commitment played an important role in the international clarification of the drama of the Albanians of Kosovo, defending the intervention of NATO to stop the Serbs Since the partial stabilization of the situation of the Kosovo Albanians, Ismaíl Kadaré returns to spend long periods in Tirana after almost nine years of self-exile in France. He is married and the father of a biologist and researcher, Gressa.
Candidate several times to the Nobel Prize, Kadaré received in 2005 the first International Booker Prize. In 1992 he was one of the finalists for the Grinzane Cavour literary prize, one of the most prestigious in Italy, with his work Crónica de piedra. On May 6, 1996, he was elected a foreign associate member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of Paris. On October 28, he occupied Karl Popper’s chair. He is a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts and the French Legion of Honor. He was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Letters in 2009, delivered on Friday, October 23 of that year. In 2015, he was awarded the Jerusalem Prize.
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