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Kadare Ismail
(b. 1936)

Kadare Ismail (b. 1936)

Ismail Kadare is an Albanian writer. He is known for his novels, although he was first noticed for his poetry collections. In the 1960s he focused on short stories until the publication of his first novel, The General of the Dead Army. In 1996 he became a lifetime member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of France. In 1992, he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca; in 2005, he won the inaugural Man Booker International Prize and in 2009 the Prince of Asturias Award of Arts. He has divided his time between Albania and France since 1990. Kadare has been a Nobel Prize in Literature candidate several times. He began writing very young, in the mid 1950s. His works have been published in about thirty languages.

Kadare served as a member of the Albanian parliament during the communist regime from 1970 until 1982.

Ismail Kadare was born on 28 January 1936 in Gjirokastër, Albania. He was from a non-religious family.

Kadare was educated at the Faculty of History and Philology at the University of Tirana and later at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow. During the communist regime, Kadare supported totalitarianism and the doctrines of socialist realism.

Kadare's novels draw on Balkan history and legends. They are obliquely ironic as a result of trying to withstand political scrutiny. Among his best known books are Chronicle in Stone (1977), Broken April (1978), , The Palace of Dreams (1980) and The Concert (1988), considered the best novel of the year 1991 by the French literary magazine Lire. The Palace of Dreams was a political allegory set in the Ottoman capital; it was banned soon after publication.

In 1990, Kadare claimed political asylum in France, issuing statements in favour of democratisation. At that time, he stated that "dictatorship and authentic literature are incompatible. The writer is the natural enemy of dictatorship."

Critical opinion is divided as to whether Kadare should be considered to have been a dissident or a conformist during the Communist period. For his part, Kadare has stated that he had never claimed to be an "Albanian Solzhenitsyn" or a dissident, and that "dissidence was a position no one could occupy [in Hoxha's Albania], even for a few days, without facing the firing squad. On the other hand, my books themselves constitute a very obvious form of resistance." Referring to a novel in which he portrayed Enver Hoxha in a flattering light, Kadare said the book was "the price he had to pay for his freedom" He is married to Helena Kadare (nee Gushi) and has two daughters.

Kadare's works have been published in over forty countries and translated in over thirty languages. In English, his works have usually appeared as secondary translations from their French editions, often rendered by the scholar David Bellos.

In 1996 he became a lifetime member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of France, where he replaced the philosopher Karl Popper. In 1992, he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca, in 2005 he received the inaugural Man Booker International Prize. In 2009, Kadare was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature. He has been a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times. In the same year he was awarded the Honorary Degree of Science in Social and Institutional Communication University of Palermo in Sicily.

Albania, 2011, Ismail Kadare

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