European bookshop LibreBook invites you on a Literary Journey to Albania
Discussion, music and Albanian aperos.
With Safet Kryemadhi, Kate Holman, Anila Dervishi and Afrim Jahja.
Over the last few years, Brussels-based writer and political commentator Safet Kryemadhi has helped to reveal the secrets of Albania’s history, culture and traditions to a wide French-speaking audience through a series of meticulously researched books.
This small Balkan country was closed to outsiders for 45 years after the end of World War II. But even earlier, European travellers and writers described it as mysterious, forgotten and unexplored. Now, as growing numbers of European tourists discover the beauty of the country and the generosity of its people for themselves, Safet looks back over more than two centuries to uncover the remarkable, the quirky and the astonishing in Balades Littéraires en Albanie (Literary travels in Albania).
He starts his journey in 1776 with English historian Edward Gibbon and continues in the company of distinguished writers – whether Albanians like Faïk Konica, Ismail Kadare, Bessa Myftiu or foreign visitors including Alexandre Dumas, Raymond Queneau, Rose Wilder Lane and many others. He uncovers little-known anecdotes from history, like the five-day reign of the German imposter Otto 1, or the story of Stiépan Zannowich who in the 18th century masqueraded as Prince Castrioto, descendant of the national hero Skanderbeg. In elegant prose, this short work reveals fascinating insights into the mysteries of Albania.
Safet’s later work Traces de Faïk Koniza (Traces of Faïk Konitza) uncovers, based on original research, the link between Albania and Brussels through the intellectual, writer, politician and activist who became Albania’s pre-war ambassador in the US.
Regarded as a pioneer in the development of Albanian identity and the Albanian language, Konitza settled in Brussels and from 1897 to 1902 published his celebrated revue Albania. He was a close friend of French writer Guillaume Apollinaire, who praised him as “the most erudite Albanian in Europe”.
Safet has selected extracts from the revue to illustrate the remarkable life of Faïk Konitza, and unveil a little-known and unexpected aspect of Brussels’ cultural history.
Safet Kryemadhi is communications advisor on international relations and economic networks, covering event preparation and editorial content for the City of Brussels. Formerly a parliamentary assistant and professor, he publishes regularly in the French and Belgian press on a wide range of topics including literature, geopolitics and the Balkans.