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If you have visited Albania and would like to share the country with your friends in a meaningful way but don’t know exactly how, we suggest some wonderful translated books and collections that will do the trick.
There is no one perfect way to encapsulate the spirit, culture, tradition and atmosphere of an entire country. There are, however, some books that have a way of magically revealing the country. It may be from a wonderfully comprehensive overview of Albanian art and photography. Or, from the masterful writing of the authors which reveals Albania in its every detail. All in all, the books below give a fascinating perspective on the country. Depending on your tastes and preferences, these books make for perfect, and meaningful, souvenirs to share with your friends from and about a land they may not know.
1. “Chronicle in stone”/ “Kronikë në gur” by Ismail Kadare
The internationally-renowned Albanian author, Ismail Kadare, tops every Albanian literary list. But, which of his numerous books would make a perfect gift? According to us, one of the author’s earliest novels, “Chronicle in stone.” Written from the perspective of a young boy, the novel outlines daily life in Gjirokastra, Kadare’s birthplace and one of the most popular destinations in Albania. For those who have visited the singular town or would like to introduce friends to this UNESCO-protected heritage site, this book is a must! It is also just a great book. You can find it in English and other languages at Adrion bookstore, located at the city center or the Mother Teresa International Airport.
2. “Sworn Virgin” / “Hana” by Elvira Dones
The historical phenomenon of sworn virgins in Albania remains incomprehensible yet very fascinating for every person who visits Albania. Though it may be mostly a thing of the past, with the international movement toward gender fluidity, the topic is more relevant than ever. Elvira Dones was one of the first authors who brought this topic to the international arena in the form of this novel. Initially published in Italian, the book was also adapted to the screen as a documentary and award-winning film of the same title. You can find the book in Italian and English at Adrion and Amazon.
3, “The Last Journey of Ago Ymeri” / “Rrugëtimi i mbramë i Ago Ymerit” by Bashkim Shehu
Bashkim Shehu is one of the most prolific Albanian writers of our time. The son of Mehmet Shehu, a former Prime Minister of Albania who served during Communism and passed away under mysterious circumstances, Bashkim is one of the few children of any former leaders who freely speaks against the former regime. He has lived in Barcelona since 1997 but continues to write about Albania and in Albanian. However, you can find translations of his books into English, French and Spanish on Amazon.
4. “Fluturim/Flight” by Kleitia Vaso The dual-language (Albanian-English) edition of this book is an ideal gift if you would like to introduce your friends to both new Albanian authors and the Albanian language. All 64 essays in this collection are written in both languages by the author herself, who has lived in Albania, the U.S. and currently resides in Poland. Vaso’s very unique and elegant perspective of the world does not focus solely on Tirana but introduces a comparative look at all the countries that have shaped her life thus far. In the end, the personal book becomes very universal, making for quite an entertaining read for many. Available at Adrion.
5. “Homeland” by Fation Plaku
This new and comprehensive guide may be a bit on the expensive side but it’s worth it as it truly reveals every corner of Albania. Among the many picturesque and familiar destinations, there are many which, for many locals and tourists alike, are still unknown. In addition to being a beautiful addition to your library, this book would be a great gift for those people who like a little adventure with their traveling. Keep in mind that it will ignite the immediate and irresistible urge to visit Albania! Available at Adrion.
6. “Negative Space” / “Hapësirë Negative” by Luljeta Lleshanaku
For the more sensitive souls, drawn to poetry, Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku is the name on everyone’s lips. From her four collections, translated in English, we recommend Lleshanaku’s latest one, “Negative Space.” This volume of poetry has garnered a lot of attention from abroad and has claimed numerous prestigious prizes. Both nostalgic and current, the poems contain Albania’s history along with Lleshanaku’s life within them. Available on Amazon.
7. “Tirana Horizontale, Go West” by Robert Aliaj Dragot
Robert Aliaj Dragot’s book is an artistic proposition. The author, a fascinating long-standing figure in the capital’s art scene, focuses his lens exclusively on the capital. The opposite case of the aforementioned collection by Plaku, in this anything-but-formal collection, the reader will find the very opposite of the smooth, postcard-perfect appearance that is usually shown tourists. This unusual book exhibits the imperfect but equally real, rough, and strangely intriguing reality. Available at Adrion.
8. “Marubi: Shqipëria-Albania 1858-1950”
The story of the Marubi family in Albania begins with the arrival of the Italian Pietro Marubi in Shkodër and concludes with his (by-then) Albanian nephew Gegë Marubi. Pietro is recognized as the first photographer in Albania and his archive, as one of the richest. For this reason, the collection of photographs from the Albania of 1858-1950 is an ideal gift for any friend from abroad. The photographs in the collection are black-and-white artistic portraits of ordinary people, famous personalities and traditional Albanian costumes as well as landscapes of the country throughout the century.
9. “Pastel 1960-2012” by Maks Velo
Although it hasn’t been translated yet, we can assure you that this little book of Maks Velo’s pastels needs no explaining. Velo’s works, spanning 50 years of his prolific artistic career, are equally beautiful and fascinating, personal and universal, rendering this gem of a collection a unique and valuable gift for your friends and loved ones. Available at Adrion.
10. “Albania through Art” (3rd Edition) by Ferid Hudhri
For any art-lovers in your circle, this rich collection of the best-known artworks by renowned Albanian artists is, undoubtedly, an ideal gift. Hudhri has worked hard on this particular volume and the 3rd edition is, by far, the best. The considerably high price is fully justified by the selection of painters, beautiful images, and chronological narration which serves as an opening towards a greater knowledge of the country’s history. Just a few reasons that make this encyclopedia of Albanian art a pleasure to browse through. Available at Adrion.
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