Ilir Ikonomi

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Ilir Ikonomi
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Born (1954-09-01) September 1, 1954 (age 69)
Pogradec, Albania
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materBeijing University
  • Journalist
  • Author

Ilir Ikonomi (born September 1, 1954) is an Albanian-American journalist and author who has written several books on the history of Albania. Ikonomi's work, "Pavarësia - Udhëtimi i paharruar i Ismail Qemalit" (Independence – The unforgettable journey of Ismail Qemali), was included in the year-long celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Independence of Albania as a literary accomplishment.

Literary Works

Ikonomi debuted in April 2011 with “Faik Konica: Jeta në Uashington” (Faik Konitza: Life in Washington),[1] a biography in the Albanian language that won high praise for the new revelations about the life of Albania’s prominent writer and diplomat, Faik Konitza.[2] The book became a national bestseller.[3]

Ilir Ikonomi is the author of “Pavarësia: Udhëtimi i paharruar i Ismail Qemalit” (Independence: The Unforgettable Journey of Ismail Kemal).[4] The book was published in 2012 on the 100th anniversary of Albania’s independence and was warmly received for breaking new ground in the study of the events leading to the founding of the state of Albania. It tracks the historic journey of Albania’s founding father Ismail Kemal that took him from Istanbul to Vlora to proclaim independence from the Ottoman rule.[5] The book quickly became popular and won the author a Medal of Gratitude from the President of Albania, Bujar Nishani.[6]

In May 2014, Ikonomi published “Pushtimi,”[7] a work on the 1939 occupation of Albania by fascist Italy, as narrated by Hugh G. Grant, the U.S. Envoy in Tirana when the invasion took place.

In 2016, Ikonomi published "Essad pasha Toptani: The Man, the War, the Power",[8] an impartial biography of Essad Pasha Toptani. In 2017, the book was on the national bestsellers list.[9]

Life and career

Ilir Ikonomi was born in Pogradec, Albania on September 1, 1954. His father was a doctor, his mother an educator. Having lost his mother at the age of 6, he spent his childhood alternately in Tirana and Berat where he graduated from high school. In 1973, he was awarded a scholarship by the Albanian government to study Chinese Language in Beijing, China. He first completed a 6 month preparatory course in Beijing Language Institute and went on to study Chinese language in Beijing University, where he received a bachelor degree in 1978. Returning to Albania, he worked for the government controlled Radio Tirana as a Chinese language translator until the end of 1991. As the old communist regime began to collapse, he was hired by Reuters news agency, becoming its first correspondent in Albania. His reports covered a wide range of topics and were printed in newspapers worldwide, including the New York Times, the Washington Times and others. In September 1992, he left Albania to work for the Voice of America, a Washington, DC-based media organization funded by the U.S. Congress.[10] He has covered important stories on Albania’s road to democracy and Kosova’s struggle for independence. On June 12, 1999, he became among the first Western journalists to enter Kosova immediately after NATO ended its bombing campaign against Serbian troops. He was also among the first foreign journalists to report on mass graves in Kosova following the conflict. Ilir Ikonomi lives in Washington, DC.[11]


  1. Ikonomi, Ilir (2011). Faik Konica: Jeta ne Uashington. Onufri. ISBN 9789995687410.
  2. "Journalist Ilir Ikonimi reveals the voice of Faik Konica in an interview on the occupation of Albania by Italy". Veritas.
  3. "Albanian bestseller books for 2010".
  4. Ikonomi, Ilir (2012). Pavarësia : udhëtimi i paharruar i Ismail Qemalit. UET Press. ISBN 9789995639761.
  5. "Ilir Ikonomi botoi librin "Pavarësia"". VOA (in shqip).
  6. "VOA Journalist Gets Award from Albanian President". VOA.
  7. Ikonomi, Ilir (2014). Pushtimi. ISBN 9789928418197.
  8. Ikonomi, Ilir (2016). Esat Pashë Toptani : njeriu, lufta, pushteti. ISBN 9789928190918.
  9. "Albanian bestsellers 2017".
  10. "Ilir Ikonomi - VOA Author Bio - Zëri i Amerikës".

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