Title: Kissani Jugoslavia
Author: Pajtim Statovci
First published January 1, 2014
286 pages, Hardcover
ISBN: 9789511269786 (ISBN10: 951126978X)
In Pajtim Statovci’s “Kissani Jugoslavia,” we follow the story of Emine, a young Albanian woman growing up in rural Yugoslavia where her place is in the home and her husband is the head of the family. She is married off to a man whom she has only met once, with elaborate celebrations marking the occasion.
But when unrest tears their world apart, everything changes. Their son, Bekim, grows up in a country where he learns to sense attitudes and prejudices.
Lost in life’s direction, he stumbles upon a pet store and purchases a king boa. At a bar, he meets a capricious cat who leads him on a journey into the layers of the past, shaking and shaping his reality.
In this poignant novel, Statovci weaves a mesmerizing tale of family, identity, and the search for belonging.
About the Author
Pajtim Statovci, a Finnish author originally from Kosovo, has gained international success with his beloved novels, “My Cat Yugoslavia” and “Crossing”. These books have received enthusiastic receptions from both critics and readers in English-speaking countries, and translation rights have been sold in over 15 languages.
Statovci was awarded the Helsinki Sanomat Literary Prize for his debut novel, “My Cat Yugoslavia”, and “Crossing” won the “Otherness in Literature” Prize. Currently residing in Helsinki, Statovci is working on a doctoral thesis on animal representation in literature at the University of Helsinki.
“Crossing” was a finalist for the prestigious National Book Awards, and “Bolla” won the Finlandia Prize in 2019.
Kissani Jugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci is a haunting and powerful novel that explores the complexities of identity, migration, and trauma. Statovci, a Finnish-Kosovan writer, has crafted a work of fiction that is both deeply personal and politically resonant, weaving together the stories of two generations of Albanian immigrants in Finland.
The novel’s genre is literary fiction and it is written in a lyrical and poetic style that is both haunting and beautiful. The novel’s themes are identity, migration, trauma, and the search for belonging.
The novel is set in Finland and Yugoslavia (now Serbia and Kosovo) and it explores the experiences of Albanian immigrants in Finland.
The novel is divided into two parts. The first part follows Emine, a young Albanian woman who moves to Finland with her husband and son.
Emine struggles to adapt to her new life in Finland, and she is haunted by memories of her past in Yugoslavia. The second part follows her son, Bekim, who is now a young man struggling with his own identity and his relationship with his mother.
The novel is a powerful exploration of the immigrant experience, and it is particularly resonant in today’s political climate. It highlights the struggles of immigrants to find a sense of belonging in a new country while also grappling with the trauma of their past.
It also explores the complexities of identity, particularly for second-generation immigrants who must navigate the cultural and social expectations of their parents’ homeland while also integrating into their new country.
Statovci’s writing is exquisite, and he has a talent for creating vivid and memorable characters. Emine and Bekim are both complex and nuanced, and their struggles feel both personal and universal.
Statovci’s prose is lyrical and poetic, and he has a talent for creating a mood and atmosphere that is both haunting and beautiful.
However, the novel is not without its flaws. The pacing can be slow at times, and some readers may find the nonlinear structure of the novel confusing.
Additionally, the novel’s themes can be heavy-handed at times, and some of the symbolism can feel heavy-handed.
Overall, Kissani Jugoslavia is a powerful and haunting novel that explores the complexities of identity, migration, and trauma. It is beautifully written, and Statovci has a talent for creating vivid and memorable characters.
While the novel may not be for everyone, it is a must-read for anyone interested in the immigrant experience and the search for belonging.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.