Kristoffer Leandoer on Euronews Albania: Academy lost the chance to award Kadare in the early 90s

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In an interview for Euronews Albania, renowned Swedish author, translator and journalist Kristoffer Leandoer talked about the reasons behind his decision to step down from the Nobel Committee and which Albanian author would have deserved the prestigious international price.

Leandoer explained that his resignation had nothing to do with Peter Handke as an author, but because of the way, the process was carried out.

“I resigned as a sign of protest not so much against Handke as a writer, he’s a great writer, he’s a problematic person, but a lot of Nobel Prize winners have been. They’ve had some obnoxious views, a lot of them”, said Leandoer. “But I protested against the way the process is done. I didn’t think it was transparent, open and I resigned because it wasn’t formulated in a correct way”.

According to the Swedish author, the Academy should have come out with a declaration distancing itself from the remarks of Handke.

“You can’t give the price to a person like Handke and not say anything about his statements. You must take that into account […] but they didn’t, it was just complete silence. And I can’t accept being a part of that. You can do a lot of things with terrible opinions, but you can’t just pretend that they don’t exist because that is where you give evil room to grow larger”, said Leandoer.

Austrian author Peter Handke received the Nobel prize in Literature in 2019, sparking a wide backlash in the Western Balkans due to his stance on the wars that ensued after the disintegration of Yugoslavia and close friendship with Slobodan Milosevic.

The former Nobel Committee member also said he was surprised by the latest award given to Tanzanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah.

“I’ve never heard his name before. I think it’s wonderful. I think this is the way it should work. The Academy managed to surprise us, again, which is a good thing”.

Asked on his opinion about which Albanian author would deserve the top price awarded by the Swedish Academy Leandoer said Ismail Kadare for his braveness in writing what he dubbed ‘true masterpieces’ during the oppressive Communist regime.

“I also admire the way he danced through oppression, a very strange dance where he managed to survive and also saying those things and writing those books it was like it was him and the dictatorship in a pas de deux”.

But he also explained that the Academy awards authors that are still in a writing process, something that might penalize the Albanian renowned author.

“I think that the Academy lost the chance to award him and the Albanian language for the first time in early 90’s, that would have been the perfect time to win the prize”, said Leandoer.

During the interview, he also brought up Lasgush Poradeci, an Albanian, poet, translator, and pioneer of modern Albanian literature who passed away by the end of the 80s, as another author that deserved the prestigious award since before Kadare.

“A writer in the Albanian language that I would have wanted to give the Nobel prize even earlier than Kadare would have been Lasgush Poradeci, in my mind, he is so great”, concluded Kristoffer Leandoer.

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