Guest 2005.

Beqë Cufaj [ Germany ]

Beqë Cufaj was born in Deçan, Kosovo in 1970. He studied Albanian Language and Literature in Prishtina and published his first articles in magazines while still a student. In 1994 »Balada Budallaqe« (t: Foolish ballads), his first collection of poems, appeared. After finishing his degree Cufaj moved to Germany in 1995. His second volume of poetry, entitled »205« – referring to his room number at the housing project in the Swabian province where he lived –, was published in 1996. A selection of his poems from these two books came out in German translation in the journal »Akzente«. Cufaj has been working as a journalist for national and foreign media since 1995, writing for the cultural section of the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung« among others. After the war in Kosovo ended he returned to his homeland for six months and participated in the revival of the most important Kosovar daily paper, »Koha Ditore«, of which he has been the German correspondent since 1997. He has been living back in Germany, near Stuttgart, since 2000.

The volume »Kosova – Rückkehr in ein verwüstetes Land« (2000; t: Kosova: return to a devastated land) brings together texts which Cufaj wrote for European and German newspapers, during and after the war in Kosovo. The tragic events of his homeland, combined with a portrait of the everyday life of its inhabitants, provide the backdrop to these essays and prose pieces, which merge documentary with a more narrative dimension. The mannerisms of the – mostly traditional – native people are outlined with light irony and anecdotal compactness. Cufaj's concerns become apparent in unpretentious ways: he makes clear that a peaceful future for the region does not depend on political responsibilities alone, but above all on overall individual understanding of the need for a radical new beginning. The author received an award from the Jury of the »Bruno Kreisky Prize for the Political Book« in 2001.

In 2003 Cufaj published his first novel, »Shkëlqimi i huaj«, which later appeared in German under the title »Der Glanz der Fremde« (t: Strange country's brightness) in 2005. In this book Cufaj describes the Kosovar childhood of his protagonists, Ricky and Arben, who are marked by a longing for promises of the life in the West. As young adults they enter Germany illegally, in search of a better future. They quickly become disillusioned from their encounter with harsh realities, and the adventure ends for one of the actors behind bars. The novel was awarded the Hivzi Sylejmani Prize for the best prose work of the year.

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