After spending his childhood and school years in Albania, imagining that the mini-skirts 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.
GAZMEND KAPLLANI was born in 1967 in Lusnia, Albania. In January 1991 he crossed the border into Greece on foot. 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 now writes a twice-weekly column for Ta Nea, Greece's biggest daily newspaper.