Originally published in Finland, this novel tells the story of two Albanian friends—Bujar and Agim—who leave their native Albania after two deaths: that of the nation's longtime Communist leader, Enver Hoxha, and Bujar's father. 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.
... 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.
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.