Ismail Kadare: Winner of the 2020 Neustadt International Prize for Literature
World Literature Today|Winter 2021
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, World Literature Today presented the 2020 Neustadt Festival 100 percent online. In the lead-up to the festival, U.S. Ambassador Yuri Kim officially presented the award to Kadare at a ceremony in Tirana in late August, attended by members of Kadare’s family; Elva Margariti, the Albanian minister of culture; and Besiana Kadare, Albania’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Born in 1936, Ismail Kadare is Albania’s best-known poet and novelist. In 2005 he was awarded the inaugural Man Booker International Prize for “a body of work written by an author who has had a truly global impact.” He also received the 2009 Prince of Asturias Prize in Spain, and he won the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society in 2015. WLT published “The Blinding Order,” an excerpt from Agamemnon’s Daughter, in 2006 and has been reviewing Kadare’s work since the publication of Le général de l’armée morte in 1970.

Kadare is a champion of international democracy and in 1990 went into political asylum in France. He has written, “I became familiar with literature before I knew freedom, so that it was literature that led me to liberty, not the other way around. Faith in literature and in the creative process brings protection. It generates antibodies that allow you to struggle against state terror.” Kadare lives in Paris and Tirana.

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