On January 18, Lithuanian writer Kristina Sabaliauskaitė was named Honorary Citizen of Vilnius, on its 700 jubilee. She was nominated by Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius, who told the city council: “I think it’s about time for us to realize that we have not only outstanding men who create Vilnius but also equally outstanding women. I am nominating Sabaliauskaitė, who Lithuanians and Vilnius residents know very well.” Sabaliauskaitė represents Vilnius in the arena of global literature and culture, according to Šimašius. The motion to name her the honorary citizen of Vilnius was approved unanimously.
Sabaliauskaitė is an art historian and one of the most famous contemporary Lithuanian writers, both at home and abroad. In 2008 she debuted with her historical novel Silva Rerum, which quickly became a best-seller and was highly praised by readers and critics for its multilayered, magical and compelling story of 17th century Vilnius. She continued with three additional books, describing four generations of the same noble Lithuanian family and the history of the entire land and its cultural connections – including universities and monasteries, manor houses and labyrinthine town streets, as well as the protagonists’ travels to London, Paris and Amsterdam. Kristina Sabaliauskaitė’s novels have been translated into Polish, Latvian and English. Sightseeing tours are continuously held in Vilnius to follow the routes mentioned in her novels. Olga Tokarczuk, 2018 winner of the Man Booker International Prize, noted that “Kristina Sabaliauskaitė belongs among the most powerful and expressive voices of the historical novel in Europe.”
As honorary citizen, Sabaliauskaitė joins the ranks of former president Valdas Adamkus, as well as Vytautas Landsbergis, first leader of the Supreme Council of Lithuania after independence; dissident Rev. Julius Sasnauskas, OFM; MO Museum (mo.lt) founders Viktoras and Danguolė Butkus.
The award was established in 1996, and granted to Monsignor Kazmieras Vasiliauskas, conductor and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, Nobel Prize winner, poet Czesław Miłosz, Israeli president Shimon Peres and others.