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Fatos Lubonja

Image of Fatos Lubonja

Few have done more to struggle for and constructively criticize Albania's democracy than Fatos Lubonja, writer, editor of the quarterly journal rpjekja [Endeavor], and representative of the Forum for Democracy, which is attempting to replace confrontation with dialogue in Albania's political life. Born in 1951 in Tirana, Lubonja has a family history of intellectual resistance. His father, Todi, for many years general director of Albanian Radio-Tellevision, was imprisoned on 1973 following a clampdown by Enver Hoxha on "liberalism" in the arts. His mother, Liri, was interned in a remote village while her husband and son were in prison, and she too has written a book about her exile, Far Away, Among People, which portrays the wretched life of the Albanian peasantry. At twenty-three, Lubonja was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for "agitation and propaganda" after police found his diaries, which contained criticisms of Hoxha, in his uncle's attic. He began serving his sentence in the copper mine of Spaç. In 1979, while still incarcerated, Lubonja faced a second accusation, this time of having created a "counterrevolutionary organization" alongside nine other prisoners, and was sentenced to a further twenty-five years. He has described his trial and the circumstances surrounding it in a documentary novel called The Second Sentence, published in Tirana in 1996. The Second Sentence is a memorial to Lubonja's fellow defendants, three of whom were shot, and records a fearful journey through the moral labyrinth of the totalitarian world. Lubonja was released after seventeen years, in 1991, became involved in human rights, and founded rpjekja in 1994. Përpjekja carries short stories, poetry, literary and cultural criticism, and articles critical of Albanian political developments, and has fast earned a reputation as the foremost Albanian cultural review. An English-language anthology of work from rpjekja, entitled Endeavor and containing work by Lubonja and leading intellectuals from Albania and Kosova, including Bashkim Shehu, Edi Rama, Ardian Klosi, and Shkëlzen Maliqi, was published in Tirana in May 2003.

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