Crossing by Pajtim Statovci
Crossing is the second novel published by Pajtim Statovci, who writes in Finnish: and translated into English by David Hackston. Crossing won the Toisinkoinen Literature Prize in 2016, and in English translation was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2019.
Crossing is a work of fiction, set in two time periods, before and after Bujar (pronounced Booyar), a young Kosovar Albanian, flees the Balkans for the West around 1991 with his closest friend, Agim. Before their journey across the Adriatic Sea, the book offers insight into Albanian culture and experience; after that first journey, it follows characters searching for identity and affirmation in as they try to settle in Italy, Spain, Germany, Finland and the United States.
Reviews have been positive, calling Crossing “a brutal portrayal of the immigrant experience: a portrayal that is steeped in shame, deep loss and rage” (Sonia Christensen, The Columbia review); in the New York Journal of Books, Michael Nava called it “challenging and brilliant.” In one of the most detailed reviews, which addresses both the Finnish original and the English translation, Jenny Råback calls Crossing “a raw and lyrical portrayal of an individual’s desperate scavenging for uniqueness in a world that mistakenly believes the reality of a person’s identity is unchanging, and so sentences those with fluid identities to a subhuman existence.”
For “Beyond Borders” book club, Tempe Public Library. Monday January 9 at 6pm: convened by Keith Brown. Keith_brown@asu.edu