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World-renowned Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare, known for quietly defying dictatorship, dies aged 88

Ismail Kadare received the France’s Legion d’Honneur medal in 2016
Ismail Kadare received the France’s Legion d’Honneur medal in 2016 Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews and AP
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The Albanian literary giant was best known for works including "Broken April" and "The General of the Dead Army", chronicling life under communist dictator Enver Hoxha by way of allegorical stories.


Ismail Kadare, who had long been mentioned as a possible contender for the Nobel Literature Prize, died at the age of 88 after being rushed to a hospital in Tirana, his publishing editor said on Monday.

A nurse at the hospital, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorised to talk to the press, said the renowned author had suffered a cardiac arrest.

Albania and Albanians lost their genius of letters, their spiritual emancipator, the Balkans (lost) the poet of its myths, Europe and the world (lost) one of the most renowned representatives of modern literature,” Albanian President Bajram Begaj said in a statement released by his office.

Kadare gained international fame after his novel “The General of the Dead Army” was published in 1963, when Albania was still ruled by the communist government of late dictator Enver Hoxha – who, like Kadare, hailed from the Ottoman fortress city of Gjirokastër.

Famed for his use of metaphor and gentle sarcasm, Kadare fled to France in 1990, mere months before the fall of the communist regime following student protests the previous December. Labelled a traitor by communist authorities, he lived in Paris and had only recently returned to Albania.

Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron awarded him the Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor title during a visit to Tirana. France had previously also made him a foreign associate of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, as well as Commander of the Legion of Honor.

Kadare was the recipient of a number of international prizes for his works, which totalled more than 80 novels, plays, screenplays, poetry, essays and story collections translated into 45 languages.

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