Visiting professor Kakabadze wins top literary honor

Cornell writer-in-residence and visiting professor in the Department of Government Irakli Kakabadze was awarded the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award 2009 during the Crossing Border Festival in The Hague, Nov. 18. This prize is awarded annually to writers and journalists who are persecuted or had to flee because they wielded their pen in a critical manner.

Kakabadze, a writer, peace studies scholar and activist, and his wife, Anna Dolidze, now a research fellow at Cornell Law School, fled the Republic of Georgia in 2006 after he was beaten, arrested and had his life threatened for protesting repressive government actions. The two are the subject of the documentary film "At the Top of My Voice." He lives in Ithaca as part of the Ithaca City of Asylum Writers Project.

Kakabadze studied 20th-century philosophy and sociology at Tbilisi State University and during late 1980s was a leader of the student opposition to the Soviet government. By age 20, he was the youngest member of the National Forum of Georgia, the leading national liberation movement. Kakabadze was a correspondent for the Voice of America's Georgian Service at the United Nations. He has published more than 50 short stories and essays in Georgian and English newspapers and magazines and five books.

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Joe Schwartz