A Short Border Handbook | Granta

  • Published: 03/05/2010
  • ISBN: 9781846271502
  • 129x20mm
  • 144 pages

A Short Border Handbook

Gazmend Kapllani

‘It is not a recognized mental illness like agoraphobia or depression … It’s largely a matter of luck whether one suffers from border syndrome: it depends where you were born. I was born in Albania.’

After spending his childhood and school years in Albania, imagining that the miniskirts and quiz shows of Italian state TV were the reality of life in the West, and fantasizing accordingly about living on the other side of the border, the death of Hoxha at last enables Gazmend Kapllani to make his escape. However, on arriving in the Promised Land, he finds neither lots of willing leggy lovelies nor a warm welcome from his long-lost Greek cousins. Instead, he gets banged up in a detention centre in a small border town. As Gazi and his fellow immigrants try to find jobs, they begin to plan their future lives in Greece, imagining riches and successes which always remain just beyond their grasp. The sheer absurdity of both their plans and their new lives is overwhelming. Both detached and involved, ironic and emotional, Kapllani interweaves the story of his experience with meditations upon ‘border syndrome’ – a mental state, as much as a geographical experience – to create a brilliantly observed, amusing and perceptive debut.

A brilliant, wry and playful memoir about migration. Kapllani tells it as it's never been told before

Lisa Appignanesi

Kapllani treats the absurdities of nationalism in the Balkans - and everywhere - with mischief, wit and insight

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

Thought-provoking and blackly comic stuff on what it means to be an immigrant


The Author

Gazmend Kapllani was born in 1967 in Lushnjë, Albania. In January 1991 he crossed the border into Greece on foot to escape persecution by the communist secret services. In Greece he worked as a builder, a cook and a kiosk attendant, while also studying at Athens University and completing a doctorate on the image of Albanians in the Greek press and of Greeks in the Albanian press. He is now a successful writer, playwright, broadcaster and journalist with a twice-weekly column in Ta Nea, Greece’s biggest daily newspaper. This is his first book.

More about the author →

Gazmend Kapllani on Granta.com

Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition

On the Refugee Crisis

Gazmend Kapllani

‘Europe, my love. You have such a long history; and oftentimes such a short memory.’