Ismail Kadaré is the winner of the first ever Man Booker International Prize.
Kadaré, born in 1936 in the Albanian mountain town of Gjirokaster near the Greek border, is Albania's best-known poet and novelist. He has lived in France since 1990, following his decision to seek asylum stating that: "Dictatorship and authentic literature are incompatible... The writer is the natural enemy of dictatorship."
From 1986, under the Communist regime, Kadaré's work was smuggled out of Albania by his French publisher, Éditions Fayard, and stored in safe keeping for later publication. Translations of his novels have since been published in more than forty countries.
Booker prize committee:
"Ismail Kadaré is a writer who maps a whole culture - its history, its passion, its folklore, its politics, its disasters. He is a universal writer in a tradition of storytelling that goes back to Homer."
In response to winning the prize, Kadaré comments:
"I feel deeply honoured by the award of the Man Booker International Fiction Prize.
"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.
"My firm hope is that European and world opinion may henceforth realise 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 civilisation.
"I would like to take the prize that I have been awarded as confirmation that my confidence and my hopes have not been misplaced."
The Man Booker International Prize seeks to recognise a living author who has contributed significantly to world literature and to highlight the author's continuing creativity and development on a global scale.
Harvey McGrath, Chairman of Man Group plc, comments:
"Ismail Kadaré's novels shine a light on the mores of his native Albania. His writing reflects not only the complexities of a nation coming to terms with its freedom, but also his own personal experiences, and make him a worthy recipient of the inaugural Man Booker International Prize."
Ismail Kadaré will receive the prize of £60,000 and a trophy at the Award Ceremony on 27 June 2005 in Edinburgh.
His works include:
My Century (Shekulli Im) 1961
The General of the Dead Army (Gjenerali i Ushtrisë së Vdekur) 1963
Why These Mountains Brood (Përse Mendohen Këto Male) 1964
The Wedding (Dasma) 1968
The Castle (Kështjella) 1970
Chronicle in Stone (Kronikë në gurë) 1971
The Great Winter (Dimri i Madh) 1977
The Three-Arched Bridge (Ura Me Tri Harqe) 1978
Broken April (Prilli i Thyer) 1980
The File on H (Dosja H) 1981
Literary Works (Vepra Letrare) 1981-1989
The Concert at the End of the Winter (Koncert në Fund të Dimrit) 1988
The Pyramid (Piramida) 1992
The Palace of dreams (Pallati i ëndërrave) 1996
Froides Fleurs D'Avril (Spring Flower, Spring Frost)2000
Elegy for Kosovo 2000
The life, game and death of Lul Mazreku (Jeta, loja dhe vdekja e Lul Mazrekut) 2002