Nonino International Prize 2018

Ismail Kadare



Poet, novelist, essay writer and script writer born in Albania. A Bard fond and critical of his people, between historical realities and legends, which recall grandeur and tragedies of the Balkan and Ottoman past, he has created great narrations. An exile in Paris for more than twenty years “not to offer his services to tyranny”, he has refused the silence which is the evil’s half, often immersing his narration in imaginary worlds, becoming the witness of the horrors committed by totalitarianism and its inquisitors. He has made religious tolerance one of the foundations of his work.

The prize is delivered by Claudio Magris



Born in 1936 in Gjirokastër, Ismail Kadare is the most famous Albanian poet and novelist. After a debut in the field of poetry that won him wide acknowledgements, he gained international reputation with a narrative production in which, catching the deepest aspirations of his people, he elaborated historical and legendary motives of his country into broad representations. Among his most important novels: The General and the Dead Army, about the compassionate research of the corpses of Italian fallen; Chronicle in Stone, about an episode of the partisan war; The Palace of Dreams, which re-proposes the Ottoman Empire as the symbol of the foreign domination and of the power that manages to control the dreams of its subjects. More than once a candidate for the Nobel Prize, in 2005 he was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for a “body of works written by a writer who has had a really global impact”. He also received the Prince of Asturias Prize in 2009, in Spain, and in 2015 he won the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individuals in Society. He lives in Paris. The publishing company La Nave di Teseo, in an agreement with the agent Andrew Wylie, has purchased the rights for the translation of Ismail Kadare’s latest work, as well as of his catalogue, with the commitment of re-translating it starting from the writer’s original language, Albanian. Coming out at the end of January his short story The provocation. He graduated in Tirana and specialized in Moscow, and then he lived in China, in the USA and in France, where in 1990 he obtained the political asylum. With the fall of the regime, he returned to his home country (1992), dividing between Albania and France. He made his first appearance as a poet with a collection, Frymëzimet djaloshare (Youth inspirations), in the course of the years followed by others which assured him a prominent position in contemporary Albanian poetry. However it is as a novelist that Kadare has gained a wide international reputation, with a production that, catching the deepest aspirations of his people, he elaborated historical and legendary motives of his country into broad representations. Among his most important novels, besides the above quoted ones, we need to mention: The Siege about an epic defense from the Turkish aggressor; November of a Capital, 1975, which celebrates the liberation; Twilight of the Eastern Gods, which tells the decadence of the USSR from Khrushchev to the break with Albania; The Three-Arched Bridge, set in 1377 in an Albania threatened by the invasion of the Turks; The Ghost Rider, about the legend of a dead that gets out of the grave to keep the promise given to his mother; The Concert, about the relations with China. In the Nineties Kadare’s production went on plentiful following the footsteps of historical allegory. In Albanian Spring, Kadare told his difficult decision (1990) of leaving Albania. In The Pyramid, on the contrary, he recalls the story of the building of Cheops’s pyramid, the icon of a utopian totalitarianism in the name of which huge atrocities were committed. In 1999 he wrote Elegy for Kosovo, a collection of short stories that trace a line of continuity between Slobodan Milosevic’s offensive and the epic battle that, in 1389, saw the Ottoman army opposed to a Balkan-Christian coalition. Among his most recent works there are The Accident (2008), A Girl in Exile (2009); The Fall of the Stone City (2010), The Doll (2015) published by La Nave di Teseo.