Anilda Ibrahimi, Albanian writer passionate about history, but in particular of her Albania, is a well-known contemporary writer, originally from Vlora and who has lived in Italy for 23 years.
Following the awarding of the national literary prize for the woman writer Rapallo Carige, we wanted to do an interview with Anilda for our readers.
His first novel Red like a bride published by the Einaudi publishing house in 2008, in which it narrates the stories of three female generations in Albania yesterday and today, it opens the streets which are only an uphill start for her. Edoardo Kihgren- City of Milan and Corrado Alvaro, City of Penne, Giuseppe Antonio Arena wins the Awards. The book is translated into seven countries.
The second one There is no sweetness, tells the story of friendship and denied maternity, of blood and honor, of the given word, in which the reader recognizes the value of universality.
It follows in the 2009 with another novel Love and rags of time, in which he recounts the war in the Balkans, the one torn by nationalism: the Kosovo war and Serbia.
The protagonists are two young people, Serbs and Kosovars who love each other and try to live in the war.
We arrive today with his latest book Your name is a promise, where it recalls the tormented events of a family of Jews fleeing Nazi Berlin to King Zog's Albania. At the center the destinies of two sisters divided by history, lived in a rough and shattered framework that includes the post-war Tirana, the climate of the communist regime and its fall, to finally recompose itself to the present day.
His way of telling is simple, dry, engaging and passionate. She tells how grandmothers used to be, with ease and full of colors. His books are world maps in which you dive with pleasure and curiosity. Nothing escapes her as she describes. It conveys the strength and the desire to be and learn from the world. His characters perceive fatality, they adapt with naturalness, a typical Albanian characteristic, and live life day after day. They discover each other, they love each other, they hate each other and then they love each other again ...
Without stretching too long, I bring you my conversation with you.
Interview with Anilda Ibrahimi
His latest novel won the national literary prize for the woman writer "Rapallo Carige". A great achievement, of which they have written very important newspapers. What are your first emotions and impressions experienced?
I'm happy as all the people who believe in their work. For the rest, I belong to the category of those who live very well behind the scenes. Indeed, I firmly believe that the writer must be a voice that listens to life in silence, to then narrate it.
How do you choose the stories that inspire your novels?
The stories I told in my novels are the ones I always wanted to tell, even before I became a writer. I made consistent choices, without ever changing my way to follow editorial logic or topics that are fashionable.
They are stories that in a sense have always inhabited me. Themes that have attracted my attention, such as the transmission to the female, the identity in the postmodern, the stories forgotten and removed by totalitarianism, in short, that nine hundred present in all my novels. My obsession, how the big story changes and you make fun of the little destinies.
Is a book aimed at an audience and if so, how is the choice made?
In general I don't choose the public, it's the public that chooses me. It is more important to me that my texts bring together different generations.
What is your social commitment to the world?
Our social battles take place in everyday life, day after day, in silence, in a soft and not screaming way. If each of us did his part the world would change quickly. Instead as a writer I believe that my constant commitment lies in giving voice to forgotten stories, giving a face to those who have left without having had any answer for the wrongs suffered by History, remembering, because this is the only way to learn from the mistakes of past.
His books tell of yesterday's Albania and today's Albania. Written directly in his second language, the Italian one. Is there an emotional detachment that allows you to describe it more easily?
Thomas Mann said that "The home of a writer is the language" and instead Herta Muller in disagreement with him states that "The homeland is not the language but the language". My language is made of that visceral and passionate relationship I have with the language, my daily life, where I speak to my affections, where I live, fight, I exasperate myself at times, where I bite life.
Perhaps the case is unique, he chose not to give permission for the translation of his books into Albanian. How come this choice?
"The writer must be a voice that listens to life in silence, to then narrate it" Anilda Ibrahimi
This is a very complicated speech that cannot be dismissed in this context. In Albania there is still no book distribution network, there are large cities that do not even have a bookstore, and culture has become a niche thing reserved for the literary clans of Tirana.
I am not closed to the possibility of publication but first of all to see changes. I believe, however, that the country is on the right track. In various fairs and exhibitions organized in Europe I saw a constant presence of young Albanian publishers full of enthusiasm and passion, ready to make their contribution so that the country reaches European standards.
The publisher is worth mentioning here Arlinda Dudaj , now known internationally for bringing the best contemporary writers into Albanian. Here, thinking of her I can say that this is the Albanian publishing I would like. The road is uphill but it's not impossible.
Cultures are recovered, processed and then transmitted. What message would you like to convey?
No messages, processing and transmission instead yes. Long gone are the times when literature transmitted messages, I write to tell stories. Certainly, at the center of all this there is my elaboration, above all of memory, taking care of the past instead of the present is necessary for me.
My world has disintegrated and this can happen even without migrating, but the fact of changing place and language was decisive in my path as a writer. I can't say that if I stayed in my native country or if I went elsewhere, I would have written the same stories.
My memory has migrated with me, and together we have been reborn in a new language, in doing so it has not remained a static thing but has become a production archive, modeling itself also in relation to the interaction with the new culture.
What do you think of post-socialist Albanian literature?
I have no clear idea why I only follow this literature sporadically. I hope that the writers of the new generation, to say the 30enni of today, will find their way to tell about the change, far from that bad imitation of a certain existentialism that has been passed for half a century, that having arrived very late has contaminated the writers of my generation. Finding an original voice, here, a voice that unites the narrative of today and that serves more than ever the country at 26 years after the fall of the dictatorship.
In her latest book, she relates the story of two Jewish sisters. Again, stories of women are told. Why this choice to tell the female world?
From the dawn of time this happened, the men went to war or to hunt, in short they were absent. Those who stayed at home to transmit the culture to their children were women, it happened through the tongue, the lullabies, the stories told around the fire. I come from a predominantly oral culture and I lived this in part.
Like all my generation I was split in half, after hours of reading in the company of Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary I was forced to spend the exact same time in the company of grandmothers or aunts who taught me to make pasta flush for an excellent byrek or grate the orange peels with mastery for an excellent jam.
And in these "feminine meetings" the stories of family, of the country, of women who had gone wrong because they were frivolous and the world does not forgive the frivolity, of others more clever that they had managed to survive while not being so honest, were told. In short, their sentimental upbringing that even the dear Flaubert would not have succeeded so well in the intent.
How did the Jewish community of yesterday and today in Albania live together?
I think yesterday I managed to tell it about it "Your name is a promise", however today I would not know living for 23 years out of the country. To tell a phenomenon you have to live the newspaper and not a week a year. Despite everything, it is a fact that religious coexistence in Albania should be an example for the whole world.
He often asks himself what his favorite writer is. I'd like to ask you instead, what is your favorite writer?
I have so many writers that I love, at this moment I can name three: Marilynne Robinson, Yasmina Reza and Agota Kristof. Ah, yes, even Alice Munro. Do you see that they are many?
And let's move on to the last question: what are your future projects?
I have recently started writing the new book, I prefer not to talk because it is still an uncertain and fragile writing. I'm still looking for the voice of the novel, I have in my head the outlined and perfect world where my characters will move. It is always a story in the feminine and perhaps it concerns me more than the others.
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