Monday, October 20, 2008

A Short Border Handbook

A Short Border Handbook
By Gazmend Kapllani
Publisher: Portobello, 2009

From the book's blurb:

A Short Border Handbook offers a unique perspective on being an immigrant, any immigrant, anywhere – Kapllani, who left Albania in 1991 to make his home in Greece, diagnoses the malaise of ‘border syndrome’ by relating his own experience and that of his fellow migrants and reflects what it means to them and to all of us.

Kapllani tells the story of his own perilous crossing over the mountains of Albania to reach ‘the-world-beyond-the-borders’ – Greece, whose twinkling electric lights seemed to offer freedom, riches and love. On arriving in the Promised Land, however, he finds that reality does not match his fantasy. Instead of a warm welcome from his long-lost Greek cousins, he is locked up in a detention centre in a small border town. Gazmend and his fellow immigrants try to find jobs and begin to plan their future lives, imagining successes which always remain just beyond their grasp. The sheer absurdity of both their plans and their new lives is overwhelming.

Kapllani interweaves this tragicomic tale of lost illusions with a set of acerbic, elegant reflections on the immigrant condition. Neither natives nor migrants emerge unscathed. Both detached and involved, ironic and emotional, Kapllani’s meditations on borders reveal a mental state as much as a geographical experience, and create a brilliantly observed, original and hilarious debut.

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