... packs a devastating punch: it is the work of an accomplished novelist. The book expands and complicates Statovci’s central theme of youthful revolt—against conventional belonging, pre-determined identities, nationalities, families, origins, against life as a tyranny foretold ... The book is alive with such wonderful gothic scenes, a visceral sense of alienation and desire. With considerable literary panache, Statovci treads a line between raw tragedy 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 ... Statovci’s brilliance is primarily as an intuitive storyteller, though there is the occasional overdose of narcissistic misery ... finds new ways of bringing the question of who belongs, and who is cast out, to an exquisitely painful point ... 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. It speaks to the sins of the fathers, which the children must transcend by crossing to the other side – or perish.
... timely ... In a deft narrative that splices both voices with myriad backdrops – Berlin, New York, Madrid, Rome and Helsinki— Statovci tells a quietly subversive tale that seeks to highlight the devastating effects of shame ... Unlike many contemporary novels, the dual narratives here support each other and each feels rounded and distinct. Statovci is particularly good at writing loss ... full of insights and thought-provoking reflection ... Statovci writes sensitively of his topics, in clear, vivid prose ... The backdrops of the novel all come easily to life.
Statovci’s refusal of the satisfactions of character is central to the book’s larger concerns. 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, with its joyfully shape-shifting hero/ine, and Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater, which features a protagonist who moves between genders, inhabited by the spirits of West African myth ... I thought of Genet often as I read Statovci’s novel; Bujar, in his voluptuous lying and his disruption of others’ lives, rivals any of Genet’s outlaws. But a more helpful antecedent may be another queer criminal: Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley ... Statovci’s writing at its best...[has] longing and rage compressed in a single sentence at once sweepingly plangent and rooted in granular detail ... Statovci’s critique of identity politics takes a heavily satirical hand. Bujar consistently rejects collective identities, from the classification of refugees as 'barbaric' to the liberal championing of minorities. But Crossing is equally ruthless in its critique of the heroic individualism ... The novel memorably portrays the pain...labels can cause; it also suggests that we may not be able to live without them.
Despite its modest length, Crossing is nothing less than the tale of human existence: of how we construct ourselves, how that changes as we try to fit ourselves to the changing world around us, and the price we pay... a tale of desperation and survival ... a melancholy account of displacement and disappointment ... This description of spiritual desolation points to the novel’s larger theme ... The crossing from one identity to another requires the constant abandonment of who and what you were and living largely in a state of flux—what Buddhists call a bardo, the disorienting and rootless interval between one life and the next in the unending cycle of reincarnation ... Crossing is a challenging and brilliant work of fiction.
... images not only figure Bujar’s interest in old-fashioned storytelling, but collide the messy worlds of human and non-human, value and waste, old and new. On a close scale, the concordant linkage of discordant ideas that figurative language performs shadows Statovci’s wider focus on the always-uneasy movement between worlds and identities ... The singular success of Crossing is its structure. Bujar and Agim’s tribulations are intersected with Bujar’s later lives (separated from Agim) in Berlin, Rome, New York and Helsinki. This structure marshals us enthrallingly to the thudding revelation of what happened in the central and first crossing of the Adriatic Sea in the summer of 1992, which is unveiled only in the book’s final page. It’s a well-trodden shape, of course (including in My Cat Yugoslavia), but Statovci’s contemporary version of the Albanian folkstories with which Bujar is preoccupied throughout...is so exceptionally well-executed and so thoroughly self-aware that it comes off consummately ... This is something that Statovci does, too; the normalisation of sexual violence both within patriarchal societies and in moments of national strife ... Statovci delivers such lines crushingly.
... part of what makes Crossing unpredictable is how swiftly horror replaces laughter ... Statovci’s writing is slyly artful ... It’s in keeping with the novel’s studiously non-binary logic that Bujar isn’t a straightforwardly sympathetic narrator ... Added complexity comes from how his time-hopping casts doubt over quite how he got to Italy in the first place. That question keeps you reading even when you feel daunted by his gruelling narrative. The answer is a shock, but one that befits the harsh perspective on show in this cruel odyssey.
...sad and searching ... Statovci uses no magic-realist elements here, and with its stark language, unanswered questions, and unrelenting heartbreak, this may be the more poignant of his powerful novels.
...disorienting but affecting ... [a] shocking conclusion ... The matter-of-fact depiction of numerous traumas intensifies the impact. Statovci memorably portrays the struggles and dislocations of his complicated characters.