Albanian writer Ismail Kadare, named recipient of the first Man International Booker prize earlier this month, accepted his award today. He told the press
that totalitarian regimes favor mediocre writers, and there usually are only a few writers of true literature in a totalitarian country.
“Each time we were able to publish anything, even just a page, we got a great moral satisfaction out of it. Each occasion was a great triumph,” he said.
“That’s what kept us going throughout this whole period. Otherwise we would have gone mad or we would have just given up.”
Kadare added that it’s “the fashion now in the former communist countries of the ex-Soviet Bloc for people to say ‘I could have been a writer but I wasn’t allowed,'” he said.
“The people entitled to speak about that period are the people who did something and not the people who kept silent and have retrospective nostalgia.”