Ilija Jovanović was born in 1950 in Serbia, in a village near Belgrade. In 1971 he moved to Vienna, where he worked as an immigrant worker. Later he began to write. He became secretary general, head of cultural affairs and chairman of the „Romano Centro“, an association for Romanies in Vienna. Jovanović was awarded the Theodor-Körner prize, the Bundesehrenzeichen for his work in the field of Intercultural dialogue, and the prize for Exil-Lyrik.