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Bilal XHAFERRI

Bilal XHAFERRI

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Bilal XHAFERRI

 

Bilal Xhaferri (1935-1986) is the poetic voice of Albanian Chameria (Çamëria), the southernmost portion of ethnic Albanian territory, which is now for the most part in Greece. He was born in the village of Ninat, near Konispol, and grew up as an orphan there and in Saranda. Xhaferri’s first poetry and short stories appeared in literary magazines in 1961-1962, and his first short-story collection, Njërëz të rinj, tokë e lashtë (Young People, Ancient Land), was published in Tirana in 1966. In 1967, he wrote a novel called Kastakraus, but he was banned from publishing in Albania the following year, and the work only appeared posthumously. Due to his criticism of Ismail Kadare’s novel Dasma (The Wedding), he was expelled from the Albanian Writers’ Union and sent into internal exile to the village of Hamallaj near Durrës. In August 1969, upon learning that he was about to be arrested, Xhaferri escaped to Greece and emigrated from there to the United States. In Chicago, he founded the periodical Krahu i Shqiponjës (The Eagle’s Wing), as the voice of the Chamerian League in exile, of which 39 issues were published (1974-1986) in English and Albanian. Bilal Xhaferri died of cancer in a Chicago hospital on 14 October 1986. His remains were returned to Albania in May 1995, and were reburied in his native soil in Saranda.