For years his name has been mentioned when the Nobel prize for Literature comes around, but he has never won it. Now, however the Asturias committee has said it loud and clear.
Ismail Kadaré is unquestionably Albanias most famous writer, and he is the winner of this years Asturias literature prize, second only to the Nobels, and worth, beyond the prestige, 50 000 euros and a Jean Miro statue. Born in 1936, Kadaré studied in Moscow, returning home in 1960 to become a journalist and poet before writing his breakthrough novel “The General of the dead army” in 1963. Exiled twice by the authorites to the countryside and banned from writing for a time, he developed a style of “double language” that allowed him to praise and criticise the regime, but it was a dangerous tightrope and in 1990 he defected to France. A stream of novels over the past four decades saw him made a member of the Academie Francaise in 1996, and he was awarded the first-ever Man Booker International prize in 2005. He has often been compared to writers of the magical realism school for his blend of the surreal and grotesque, but there is much that is autobiographic in his work, a life lived through turbulent times.