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Kadare Wins International Booker; A Missed Opportunity

It was bound to happen. Ismail Kadare finally won a major international literary prize even though all the English translations are based on French translations. I have a feeling that winning this prize will expedite the hunt for a good English translator.

If we didn’t have the civil unrest and I had had the opportunity to reup with Peace Corps Albania in 1997, I probably would have tried my hand at translation. At the time I was teaching at a university in southern Albania. Alas, it was not meant to be. It really would have been the perfect task for an American Peace Corps volunteer, or maybe for an Albanian who’s been living in English speaking countries for quite some time.

Kadare is not a “typical” Albanian writer; he has a formal complex style and besides, he’s been overseas all this time. He writes allegorically rather than realistically. He is not an easy writer and in the two novels I read by him (written before communism fell), the political intentions were inscrutable. His “friendship” with Enver Hoxha was famously controversial. I’ve always been told that Doruntine is his greatest work, and it reads very well: a very simple tale.

(Complete Review has a list of Literary Works of Twice Removed Translations).

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