NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
From the acclaimed author of My Cat Yugoslavia: a stunning, incandescent new novel that speaks to identity, war, exile, love, betrayal, and heartbreak
The death of head of state Enver Hoxha and the loss of his father leave Bujar growing up in the ruins of Communist Albania and of his own family. Only his fearless best friend, Agim—who is facing his own realizations about his gender and sexuality—gives him hope for the future. Together the two decide to leave everything behind and try their luck in Italy. But the struggle to feel at home—in a foreign country and even in one's own body—will have corrosive effects, spurring a dangerous search for new identities.
Steeped in a rich heritage of bewitching Albanian myth and legend, this is a deeply timely and deeply necessary novel about the broken reality for millions worldwide, about identity in all its complex permutations, and the human need to be seen.
About the Author
PAJTIM STATOVCI was born in Kosovo in 1990 and moved with his family to Finland when he was two years old. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Helsinki. His first book, My Cat Yugoslavia, won the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize for best debut novel and his second, Crossing, won the Toisinkoinen Literature Price. He received the 2018 Helsinki Writer of the Year Award.
Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @Pajtimstatovci.
“Statovci’s writing . . . has an affecting lyricism. . . . [Containing] at its best, longing and rage compressed in a single sentence at once sweepingly plangent and rooted in granular detail. . . . Crossing, in its rejection of fixed notions of identity, has a kind of kinship with recent books by other young queer writers, among them Andrea Lawlor’s Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl . . . and Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater. . . . Crossing arrives at a moment when many of us have grown suspicious of monolithic categories . . . and have begun to recognize how inadequate such labels are to encompass the reality of individual lives. The novel memorably portrays the pain those labels can cause.”
—Garth Greenwell, The New Yorker
“The work of an accomplished novelist. . . . The book is alive with . . . wonderful gothic scenes, a visceral sense of alienation and desire. With considerable literary panache, Statovci treads a line between raw tragedy (the boys’ tormented bodies and hearts are a microcosm of a collective agony) and a more formal aesthetic of abjection bordering on existential horror, in the best European literary-philosophical tradition from Camus to Kafka, Kadare to Kristeva. The sensitivity and poetry of David Hackston’s translation match the original. . . . The brutal beauty of Crossing comes from its almost cellular understanding of belonging and exclusion, love and cruelty. It is a powerful phoenix of a book that rises from the ashes of the previous century.”
—Kapka Kassabova, The Guardian
“A challenging and brilliant work of fiction.”
—Michael Nava, New York Journal of Books
“There are novels that you read because they entertain you, and there are novels that you read because the prose commands you to do so. Pajtim Statovci’s sophomore novel Crossing falls in the latter category. . . . A gritty, gut-wrenching and heartbreaking read.”
—Tommy Sanders, The Post and Courier (Charleston)
“[A] story told with great sensitivity and empathy, highlighting Statovci's development as a leading voice in modern European literature.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“An excellent and evocative novel about the intersection of migration and gender.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“Shocking. . . The matter-of-fact depiction of numerous traumas intensifies the impact.”
“Poignant. . . . Powerful. . . . [A] searching tale of a young Albanian whose struggle to understand his sexual orientation and gender identity is interwoven with his struggle to survive in foreign lands.”
“Crossing will devour you; this is some fierce, dazzling, and heartbreaking shit.”
—NoViolet Bulawayo, author of We Need New Names
“Anyone who has ever known what it’s like to leave home in pursuit of happiness and belonging will most likely love this tender, beautiful novel as much as I did.”
—Imbolo Mbue, author of Behold the Dreamers
“Reading Pajtim Statovci’s fiction is like entering a lucid dream: life and death intertwines in an intimate dance; the nostalgia for the past is akin to the nostalgia for the future. Crossing is a novel that dazzles and mesmerizes, and the reader, upon finishing, may have the extraordinary sensation that his or her own dreams have been scattered along the journey, beckoning for rereading.”
—Yiyun Li, author of Where Reasons End
“Everything, and I mean everything, is threatened with devastation and loss, but Pajtim Statovci’s prose, the quality of his seeing and remembering, promises to save an invaluable part for all of us.”
—Amitava Kumar, author of Immigrant, Montana