Local children's literature in the shadow of translations

Descriptive Text

Once upon a time, Albanian children's literature in Kosovo had quite a few prominent authors, today you can't find even one for a literary award like the one named after Vehbi Kikaj. Creators and publishers estimate that the offer for young readers is rich, but that Albanian literature has been neglected. Some alarm that the creativity of literature is not being supported, the existing one is "obsolete" in relation to today's demands of children.

"Poor tendencies" was the jury's reasoning for not awarding the literary prize for the best work for children and young people "Vehbi Kikaj" this year either. It was left without a laureate, at the ceremony of the Ministry of Culture last week, but for people in the field, this is only an indicator of the state of local children's literature. Across the bookstore, the shelves of children's books are mostly filled with works by foreign authors. Creators and publishers estimate that the offer for young readers is rich, but that Albanian literature has been neglected. Some alarm that the creativity of literature is not being supported, the existing one is "obsolete" in relation to today's children's demands, and local writers for children are counted on the fingers.

Writers away from trends

The writer of children's books, Drenusha Zajmi-Hoxha, said that children's literature is very lacking in terms of local authorial works. According to her, the authors do not see the importance of such creations, which she refers to as a basis for children.

"Children's literature is extremely lacking, since I am talking about the literature of our authors, because we have as many translations as you want. The problem is first of all with the authors themselves, because they do not deal with this literature. They do not consider it important as long as it is very important as it is basic for children. I see the main problem in the authors themselves, which we do not have in Kosovo. They can be counted on the fingers, and there is not even that much", said Zajmi-Hoxha.

He estimated that even children are not interested in reading the works of local creators, as they do not keep up with the times in their publications.

"Work is being done, but compared to translated books by foreign authors, it is not visible. There is no interest[1] from either the authors or the children. Authors[1] do not keep up with today's children. It has to be in step with the times so they can keep them connected for the book. I must not stop[1]my from this work. Actually, I see weakness [1] more in the authors than in the children", Drenusha Zajmi-Hoxha.

The writer Xhevat Syla has said that publishing children's books is not taken seriously by publishers in Kosovo. According to him, the distribution of books and their delivery to the reader is also a problem. He estimated that children's literature was hit by the death of great Albanian writers.

"Children's books are published on a case-by-case basis, but even when they are published[1], their distribution, reaching the reader, is a separate problem. Bookstores are rare in municipalities, I think in those where books are the main commodity. In recent decades, children's literature has suffered a severe blow with the passing away of many of our popular writers. However, it is written, even though we don't have a new generation of writers, what would we need", said the writer Syla.

According to him, more efforts should be made to encourage children to read. According to Syla, this is done by enriching the funds of school libraries with new publications.

"In schools, more should be done to affirm the book as an irreplaceable value for the development and intellectual formation of children and young people. As a result of this commitment, we would also have increased requests for the book and stimulation of writers for creativity, we would have even more publishers who would be interested in publishing the children's book, which could be published in a larger circulation. big and to reach as many readers as possible", he said.

The award of the Ministry of Culture named after one of the great writers for children, Vehbi Kikaj, is shared together with the Lifetime Achievement Award "Azem Shkreli" along with awards in other categories.

Bardh Rugova, full professor at the Faculty of Philology at the University of Pristina, corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Kosovo, this year has also chaired the Jury for the national literary award for life's work "Azem Shkreli" and the Annual Awards for Literature. He said that for the award for the work for children and young people "Vehbi Kikaj" there were few applications but they were poor in terms of quality.

"There were seven or eight applications. There have been applications, but none have been of a level that we feel has been representative enough to receive an award of this nature. They were poor in terms of quality," said Rugova.

With the decision not to share the award, he said that they did not want to lower the standards of the award, giving it to one of the applicants.

"In these two years, there has not been enough quality flow for a price of this level. We did not want to reward someone whose creations do not fit the values ​​and criteria", said Rugova. Jury members were also: Azem Deliu, Vlora Ademi, Alban Beqiraj and Naime Beqiraj.

The literary researcher, writer, translator and university teacher, Anton Nikë Berisha, was announced as the laureate of the national literary award for lifetime achievement "Azem Shkreli".

The writer and painter Drenusha Zajmi-Hoxha said that she was the one who proposed to divide the prize for the work for children and young people.

"Three years ago, I myself proposed to a jury member to give That same year, the post-mortem award was given to Abdullah Thaçi. Even though we competed, they gave this award and then I didn't hear that they gave it to anyone", said Zajmi-Hoxha, who indicated that her works are in the work process.

"As for me personally, I have always worked on children's books, but in the last two years I have been involved in the process of school books. Then I also went to readings, currently two are in the process as they go through many filters not only of editors and reviewers, but also others, like psychologists", she said.

Market enriched with foreign authors

Edon Zeneli, president of the Association of Publishers of Kosovo, said that there are enough publications for children, but that a good part of them are translated books.

"There are quite a lot of publications for children. The market is getting richer with children's literature. How many of them are copyright publications is another matter. There are far fewer publications by Albanian authors than there are translations", said Zeneli, who is also the leader of the publishing house "Pema". According to him, this publishing house is profiled only in books for adults.

"The magic of the book" dedicates a good part of its publications to young readers. Besir Zyberi, manager at this publishing house, said that the Albanian author is almost forgotten and that there is no investment in the books of local authors who write for children.

"Kosovo stands very well in publications for children, but the question must be asked whether they publish Albanian or foreign authors. Albanian authors are almost forgotten and do not sell much. Perhaps the theme of elaboration in the novel is missing, perhaps the illustrations are not appropriate and therefore this Albanian children's literature has been neglected. It is not invested much because today children read more something that develops their imagination, adventure, not traditional children's literature books", said Zyberi, indicating that this publishing house mainly deals with the translation of foreign works.

It has been announced that they are working on children's books by earlier authors, making the language more understandable as well as illustrating[1] these works.

"There are as many children's books as you want. The lack is in Albanian children's literature. It is often the family members of deceased authors who demand very large royalties, while the market in our country is very small. You can publish a book with 500 copies, and even those have many ups and downs to sell. So we focused more on foreign literature where sales are guaranteed", said Zyberi.

The President of the League of Writers of Kosovo, Shyqri Galica, has said that the small number of young authors of children's books is also a challenge for the drafting of additional literature.

"I was in a commission of the Ministry of Education and it was very difficult to make ten or five titles, as we have determined. I am talking about the works of authors from Kosovo, while there are more in Albania. Neither this nor that literature is stimulated here, to say at least that it is stimulated for adults, to say that it for children has been left behind", said Galica.