The 16 October 2019 the World Literature Today, an award-winning journal of international literature and culture at the University of Oklahoma, USA, announced that Albanian writer Ismail Kadare is the 26 winner of the famous international Neustadt prize for literature.
Kadare, Albanian novelist, poet, essayist and playwright, became famous in Albania thanks to his poetry and published his first novel 'The General of the Dead Army (translation of the title in Italian, ed) in the 1963.
Winner of numerous international awards, he is considered one of the best exponents of contemporary literature and has been a candidate several times, unfortunately never winning it, to the Nobel Prize for literature.
"Champion of international democracy and freedom of speech", as described by Robert With Davis-Undiano, Executive Director of World Literature Today, Kadare in 1990 moved to France, he must have obtained political asylum.
He wrote about himself: "I became familiar with literature before learning about freedom, so it was literature that brought me to freedom, not the other way around. Faith in literature and in the creative process lead to perfection ".
Biography of Kadare
Class 1936, born in Argirocastro, Kadare is considered the greatest living Albanian writer.
At the beginning of his career as a journalist, he immediately combines poetry, the art that will give him his final fame first at home and then abroad.
But it will be the prose that makes him the perfect narrator of the complex relationship between history and man. The Albanian historical events, among other things, lend themselves well to this purpose and become a metaphorical reference to any of his writings.
Difficult to establish which is his most important work. Surely it can be said that, in the 90 years, his art steeped in historicism has brought him several frictions with the Albanian political class, which is why he asked for and obtained political asylum in France, settling permanently in Paris, where he currently lives.
For information, we can mention some titles translated also in Italy.
His very first internationally acclaimed novel was 'The General of the Dead Army', released in the 1963 and tracing the period of Italian occupation in Albania in prose.
In his hometown he dedicated the novel 'La città di pietra', released in 1971 and clearly inspired by autobiography.
'The palace of dreams', of 1981, is his first allegory about totalitarianisms. With his ideal entourage 'The eye of the tyrant', in the 1991, and changing only the chronological setting, anticipating it to the centuries of Ottoman domination, Kadare weaves his condemnation towards oppressive regimes, those that also spy the dreams of men and they condition life and death.
Among the many awards of Ismail Kadare at international level we mention some of them in the list below.
- In the 2005 wins the first edition of the Man Booker.
- In the 2009 he wins the prize Prince of Asturias for literature.
- In the same year, at the request of the arbëreshë of Italy, you received the degree from the University of Palermo Honoris Causa in Communication Sciences.
- In the 2016 receives in France the recognition of 'Commander of the Legion of Honor'after having been'Officer of the Legion of Honor'from the 1997 to the 2015.
- In the 2018 wins the Nonino International Award
- From the 1996 he is a permanent member of the French Academy, 'Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters'
Curiously, although he had numerous nominations, he never won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
His home in Gjirokastra, already in the 1991 declared Albanian cultural monument, today it is a House-Museum open to the public. His home-studio in Tirana has also been transformed into a museum in the 2019.
The Neustadt Prize
The Neustadt Prize is the first international literary award in its field from the United States.
Often referred to as the 'American Nobel', it is one of the very few international awards for which poets, novelists and playwrights are equally eligible. Any living author who writes, anywhere in the world, has the right to participate in the Neustadt Prize.
The jury is composed of acclaimed international authors and this, in fact, helps to protect the prize from external pressures of publishers who might be interested in influencing the result. The winners are awarded 50.000 dollars, a replica of a silver-fused eagle feather and a certificate.