Born and raised in the museum-city of Gjirokastra, Ismail Kadare studied in the Faculty of History and Philology at the University of Tirana and subsequently at the Gorky Institute of World Literature in Moscow until 1960 when relations between Albania and the Soviet Union soured.
He began his literary career in the 1950s as a poet with verse collections such as “Youthful inspiration” and “Dreams” which proved his talent and poetic originality. In the sixties, Kadare turned his creative energies increasingly to prose, of which he soon became the undisputed master and by far the most popular writer of the whole of Albanian literature. He was thus the most prominent representative of Albanian literature under the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha and, at the same time, its most talented adversary.
His works were extremely influential throughout the seventies and eighties and, for many readers; he was the only ray of hope in the cold, grey prison that was communist Albania.
At the end of October 1990, a mere two months before the final collapse of the dictatorship, Ismail Kadare left Tirana and applied for political asylum in France, a move which, for the first time, gave him an opportunity to exercise his profession with complete freedom.
His years of Parisian exile have been productive and have accorded him further success and recognition, both as a writer in Albanian and in French. He has published his collected works in ten thick volumes, each in an Albanian-language and a French-language edition, and has been honored with membership in the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques.
In 1992, he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca, and in 2005 he received the inaugural Man Booker International Prize. In 2009, Kadare was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature. In the same year he was awarded an Honorary Degree of Science in Social and Institutional Communication by the University of Palermo in Sicily. In 2015, he was awarded the bi-annual Jerusalem Prize.
Kadare has been mentioned as a possible recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature several times. His works have been published in about 45 languages.
First published in Italian language under the title “Ismail Kadare, ambasciatore di letteratura e cultura albanese nel mondo”