Thursday, June 02, 2005

Albanian writer wins new international Booker prize

Ismail Kadaré, an Albanian novelist and poet, has been named the winner of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize.

He beat out a field of authors that included Canada's Margaret Atwood and the late Saul Bellow.

This is the first time that the prize has been given. The Man Booker International Prize was created to honour a body of work by a living author and will be given every two years – unlike the Man Booker Prize, which goes to a specific book by a Commonwealth author. Nominees for the international version can be from any nation, but their work must have been translated into English.

Kadaré, who has lived in France for 15 years, was selected by a panel of judges that included writers Alberto Manguel and John Carey.

"Ismail Kadaré is a writer who maps a whole culture – its history, its passion, its folklore, its politics, its disasters," Carey said in a release. "He is a universal writer in a tradition of storytelling that goes back to Homer."

Kadaré said he was deeply honoured to win.

"I am a writer from the Balkan Fringe, a part of Europe which has long been notorious exclusively for news of human wickedness – armed conflicts, civil wars, ethnic cleansing, and so on," he said.

"My firm hope is that European and world opinion may henceforth realize that this region, to which my country, Albania, belongs, can also give rise to other kinds of news and be the home of other kinds of achievement, in the field of the arts, literature and civilization."
Kadare published his first novel, The General of the Dead Army, in 1963 and has since been published in more than 40 countries. Some of his other books include:The File on H,The Three-Arched Bridge,The Concert,Broken April,Doruntine,The Palace of Dreams,The Pyramid,Elegy for Kosovo[Kosova],The Castle and his latest Spring Flowers, Spring Frost .

The prize is worth about $135,000. Kadaré will receive the award at the official ceremony on June 27 in Edinburgh.

Stanislaw Lem of Poland, Naguib Mahfouz of Egypt, Cynthia Ozick of the U.S., Ian McEwan of Britain, A.B. Yehoshua of Israel and Atwood were among the other 18 nominees from 13 countries.
CBC.Ca & BBC

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