Robert Elsie’s Albanian authors in translation:

This web site contains the largest selection of Albanian literature ever to have appeared in English translation. It comprises a wide range of Albanian authors from past and present, including writers from Albania, Kosova and the Albanian diaspora. These translations are the fruits of over twenty years of research in the field of Albanian studies. Some were published, but most of them appear here for the first time.

Compared to other Balkan literatures, very little Albanian writing has ever been translated into English… The scarcity of translations of Albanian literature has, thus, nothing to do with a lack of quality in the original (although there are admittedly many works of dubious merit which would be better left untranslated), but simply rather with a lack of literary translators from Albanian into English. It is to be hoped that the situation will improve in the future.

In the meanwhile I trust that these modest translations of mine will provide some stimulus.

An excellent idea, and I hope it does something to raise the profile of Albanian literature. (Via the irreplaceable Plep.)

A point of information: although the more familiar Serbo-Croatian name Kosovo has the stress on the first syllable, the Albanian term Kosova has the stress on the middle syllable (ko-SO-va).

Update (Nov. 2021). Elsie died in 2017.


  1. A very worthwhile site. Although I’m not so sure Albanian is any more underserved than Romanian or Bulgarian. I could name Ismail Kadare off the top of my head if asked to think of an Albanian writer, I can’t think of any modern Romanian, Bulgarian or Macedonian writers who have garnered attention in the West. It is true that Romanian and Bulgarian should be more easily acessible to Westerners than Albanian, so where are the translations?

  2. aldiboronti says

    Fascinating. I’ve just been reading an extract from Brief Chronicle of the Descendants of our Musachi Dynasty by John Musachi, (1515. It’s wonderful stuff.
    “May you know that sebaston cratos means commander-in-chief of the emperor. It is one of the five titles which the emperor accorded. Lord Andrew Musachi held this title.
    When you come upon the city of Belgrade (Berat), you should know that it is the one in Epirus and in Myzeqe, and not the one in Hungary.
    When you come upon the name Theodore Musachi Chiscetisi (Kishetisi), know that Kishetisi means long-haired. And indeed they wore their hair long. In Albanian, the word ‘kishet’ (gërshet) means ‘braids’ and that was the way they were accustomed to wearing their hair, as far as I remember. Even in our times, they usually wore their hair down to their shoulders in our principality. This is why I mention this.”
    Great site.

  3. Kadare is exceptional: he’s been well known in French and English for some time, and by serendipity has just won the International Booker Prize. There’s a certain impetus in being well known in the West.

  4. LAVOINE Claire says

    ” Ils n’étaient pas frères et pourtant… Albanie 1943-1944.”
    It is as the French correspondent of Neshat Tozaj, Albanian writer, journalist and film script writer, that I take the freedom of letting you know of the recent publication of his last book in France ” Ils n’étaient pas frères et pourtant” Albanie 1943-1944″, the original title published in Albania is “Shalom”.
    This book intentionally written as a novel because of the friendship described tells us that the Jewish Albanian community and all the refugees who came from other countries found protection and salvation among the Albanian population under the nazi occupation. The Jews in fact were immediately protected and hidden.
    The English version recently translated by Marc Lowenthal, the son of Mr. Larry Lowenthal, Executive Director of Boston’s American Jewish Committee, should be soon published in the United States. Mr. Van Christo, Executive Director, Frosina Information, Mr. Alan Adelson, Jewish Heritage Project, Mr. Goldfarb and Mr. Stephen Schwartz, amid other personalities, gave us their support for the future publication.
    I would like to precise certain points about the novel written by Neshat Tozaj. Of course the matter of the novel is based on authentic events but the writer chose to present them in this way to stress the brotherhood born between the two boys. Neshat’s essential purpose is to make people know that the Jewish community has been protected in Albania during the nazi occupation and to tell why. Religion has nothing to do with this but the strong tradition of hospitality called “besa”. You are to know that in Albania nobody would define himself as Moslem, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant or even Jew, for those remaining in the country, but above all as Albanian. It is not rare in Albania to find in the same family members of different beliefs who all honour the different religious feast Days…
    The novel is the opportunity to approach the Albanian underground Resistance, the welcome attitude reserved not only to Albanian Jews but foreigners and the moral code typical of this country which permitted to save the community. The main interest of the book in our perturbed world is to show that a people in Europe has been capable to live in harmony totally outside of religious problems. This situation is to day discovered, Albania during nearly fifty years was cut from the rest of the world…
    Neshat Tozaj has often chosen the novel form of writing to present his country and his history to allow us to know more about Albania. Such was the case of the novel “The knives” (Thikat) which, when published in Albania and then in France in 1991, has been internationally welcomed by a great number of observers who spoke about the book. The U.S. State Department even wrote that ” Thikat ” was a starting point to democratic reform in Albania. The book was denouncing the exactions committed by the Sigurimi under Enver Hoxha.
    Of course our purpose is essentially before all making this part of History known just to honour a people that deserves our gratitude and also to honour the memory of all the Jews who found protection in Albania.
    It is already possible for the readers of French language “lovers” to order “Ils n’étaient pas frères et pourtant… Albanie 1943-1944” via Internet or La Société des Ecrivains, French publisher.
    With my very best regards.
    [Endless quotes removed — LH.]

  5. [Endless quotes removed — LH.]
    P.S. I remain at disposal to any one who would like many documents and testimonies about the Jewish rescue in Albania.
    I am still looking for Albanian and American Historians or personalities involved in the subject who would help me to get this page of Albanian History recognized in France.
    Thank you in advance.
    Very kind regards from France.
    A bientôt de vos nouvelles.

  6. Claire: I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but please do not use my site as a repository for long, long quotes of marginal relevance to the post. If you have something to say, say it; if you want to refer readers to something elsewhere online, please use hyperlinks. Thanks.

  7. I am astonished and pleased to discover that this site is still alive and well. Elsie doesn’t seem to have been keeping it up to date for the last decade or so, but of course he has no obligation to; what’s important is what’s there. Some examples of lack of update:

    Linditë Ahmeti:

    Ahmeti, among the best-known female poets of the Albanians in Macedonia, is the author of four volumes of verse.

    According to this site, she is the author of seven volumes of verse.

    Luan Starova:

    His works have also appeared in French, German, Italian, Turkish, Romanian, Croatian, Bulgarian and Greek.

    Wikipedia: “Two of Luan Starova’s novels from the Balkan Saga cycle (My Father’s Books and The Time of the Goats) have been published in English translation, translated by Christina E. Kramer.”

    Jamarbër Marko:

    Jamarber Marko (1951-)

    Wikipedia: “Jamarbër Marko (1951-2010) ishte një shkrimtar shqiptar.”

  8. Christopher Culver says

    Elsie died over four years ago, so of course he hasn’t been keeping it up to date.

  9. Ah, that would be a problem. Thanks for letting me know; I’ve added an update.

  10. Stu Clayton says

    The second part of this WiPe sentence is peculiar:

    # Elsie during his lifetime authored many works of scholarship and had no major unpublished work left for completion prior to his death. #

    Is it otherwise a common failing to die leaving a major unpublished work for completion ? Is that something people want to know – whether the deceased saved himself from cliché ?

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