A Short Border Handbook

by Gazmend Kapllani | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 9781846271496 Global Overview for this book
Registered by contraforsa of Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on 5/25/2009
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15 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by contraforsa from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Monday, May 25, 2009
Book description:
"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".

Gazi Kapllani wrote this book in greek, mastering a language which was not his native one, much better than a lot of greek writers. I've read the original and was totally absorbed in it while reading it, not to mention deeply moved and at times shocked. I've also had the chance to see his first theatrical play this year- six monologues of immigrants, based on true stories, which were even more intense than the book. The book gives you a good insight on how it feels to be an immigrant, a feeling and a situation for which we often have and show compassion, but which we don't really realise.

Apart from that, what I personally got from the book, is images from Albania's past, which is in deed a neighbor country, but is on the other hand one of the European countries, who has been the most isolated in the past. Not to mention a very cruel image of my own country, which I did on the one hand know, but would rather pretend wasn't there and whose depth on the other hand I wasn't really aware of. This image has sadly nothing to do with our nice beaches and the hospitality spirit we so often like to highlight.

Still, the feelings described in this book, could be provoked (I really hope almost) anywhere in this world. The book is not about nationalities, it's main focus is not an Albanian immigrant, who tries his chance in Greece, it is about the sensitive state of immigration and what comes along with it.

Some of you may know, that I am a newbie in BC. When I saw however that the book was translated and published in English (on May), I immediately thought about ordering it and offering it as an international ring. So here it is! I really hope you will enjoy it!

Journal Entry 2 by contraforsa from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Wednesday, May 27, 2009
So here is the order of the participants of the ring so far:

1. ApoloniaX (Germany)
2. KiwiinEngland (UK)
3. Cinderess (UK)
4. Jonniboi (UK)
5. BokOrm09 (UK)
6. anastagebuch (Germany)---> book is traveling here
7. auweia (Germany)
8. okyrhoe (Greece)
9. peggypostcard (Australia)

I think the book will be ready to travel in about a week, hoping that maybe more participants will be interested! A big thank you to all the participants so far for their interest!

Edited to include the usual instructions, copy pasted from ApoloniaX's ring:

- Someone will PM you for your address, PM them back and provide your address
- When you receive the book, please make a journal entry letting everyone know that you received it
- Please try to finish it within a month
- When the end is in sight, check the book's journal and PM the next person to get their address
- Make another journal entry and let everyone know what you thought of the book
- Make release notes to let everyone know that it's in the mail
- Send the book to the next person on the list
- Last person on the list: please send it back to me
If delayed make sure to let us know so that the ring will not stop.

Journal Entry 3 by contraforsa at By mail, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (6/2/2009 UTC) at By mail, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



The book is on its way to ApoloniaX! Thank you all for participating in this ring, I hope you will enjoy the book and I cannot wait to see what you thought of it!

Journal Entry 4 by wingApoloniaXwing from Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin Germany on Thursday, June 4, 2009
The book arrived today (along with two books from my wishlist!!!) Thank you contraforsa!!! I'll start reading today...
From the back cover:
'My difficult relationship with borders goes back a very long way, back to my childhood, because whether or not you end up with border syndrome is largely a matter of luck: it depends on where you're born. I was born in Albania.'

Journal Entry 5 by wingApoloniaXwing from Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin Germany on Friday, June 5, 2009
This was a quick read. And an excellent one!
An amazing little book.... a book that makes you think.
Part of each chapter is the tale of an Albanian emigrant. Interwoven with it, set apart in different font type, is some kind of an analysis of migration - the situation of a migrant, the struggle with the new language, the idealisation of the world beyond the borders - and its demythologizing.
There is an interesting shift: First the immigrant is described in the third person, then the reader is directly spoken to "Illegal immigrant. That's your nickname. [...] Something's not quite right, you think, somewhere down the line something has gone wrong, ..." The migrant's experiences are described with more than a pinch of irony and sarcasm, which makes it a rather tragicomic tale.
Wenn Kapllani started to describe the "psychological dysfunction" called border syndrome, it made me think of the Berlin wall (what else, being German) - and then, in the end (no spoiler) he mentions being in Berlin, writing the book and "looking across at what's left of the Berlin wall", calling it the skeleton of a monster - what a perfect name for it.
"In the final analysis, we are all migrants, armed with a temporary residence permit for this earth, each and every one of us incurably transient."
Thank you, contraforsa, for offering this book to us!!!!

Journal Entry 6 by wingApoloniaXwing at To the next participant, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Friday, June 5, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (6/5/2009 UTC) at To the next participant, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



The book's crossing some more borders now, travelling to KiwiinEngland.

Journal Entry 7 by wingkiwiinenglandwing from Wellington City, Wellington Province New Zealand on Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Safely arrived, with some great stamps which will be reused in another bookring I'm taking part in (wreck this book).

Journal Entry 8 by wingkiwiinenglandwing from Wellington City, Wellington Province New Zealand on Thursday, June 18, 2009
This was a very interesting book to read, which allowed you to feel empathy for illegal immigrants who enter a country and try and make a new life for themselves. I enjoyed the writing style, with each chapter telling two different stories.

Journal Entry 9 by wingkiwiinenglandwing at Manchester, Greater Manchester United Kingdom on Friday, June 19, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (6/20/2009 UTC) at Manchester, Greater Manchester United Kingdom



Posting via Royal Mail.

Journal Entry 10 by Cinderess on Wednesday, June 24, 2009
What a nice looking little book to come home to. I'll read and pass it on soon.Thanks for adding me to this bookring.

Journal Entry 11 by Cinderess on Thursday, July 2, 2009
Fascinating read, though at times slightly repetative.

The children of migrants rejected by their country who are then completely rootless and whom fare less well than the migrant was an interesting notion.

I know I hold a 'good passport' and have been grateful for that before. The good passport and bad passport state of matters is a sad reality.

Journal Entry 12 by Cinderess at Kings Norton, West Midlands United Kingdom on Monday, July 6, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (7/6/2009 UTC) at Kings Norton, West Midlands United Kingdom



Sending on to Jonniboi. Thanks for including me in this bookring.

Journal Entry 13 by Jonniboi from Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Thursday, July 9, 2009
I shall read this straight after I have finished a book ring for Neil Gaiman, I have almost finished that so it won't be long until I am reading this one! There has been some good ratings on this so I think I might enjoy it more than I first thought I would!

Journal Entry 14 by Jonniboi from Birmingham, West Midlands United Kingdom on Monday, July 20, 2009
Not my sort of book, I had a few things that annoyed me, but overall I like the way it was written and I also like the way in which it was layed out. I don't plan on living in a different country, but if I were then this is a handbook I definitely won't be using, it sounds as if he is saying that staying in the same country is the best thing you can do!

I'm pretty sure I have already contacted the next person in line, but I got no reply, I shall try again! I will send it tomorrow!

Journal Entry 15 by Jonniboi at Kings Norton, West Midlands United Kingdom on Monday, July 27, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (7/27/2009 UTC) at Kings Norton, West Midlands United Kingdom



I have sent this book to the next person in line who happens to be BokOrm09. I hope he enjoys it more than I did!

Journal Entry 16 by BokOrm09 from Sevenoaks, Kent United Kingdom on Monday, August 17, 2009
Am a little late in logging this book as it arrived in the post last Monday, but I've already started reading it and should be ready to post on to the next reader in the next couple of days :)

Journal Entry 17 by BokOrm09 at Orpington, Kent United Kingdom on Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (8/18/2009 UTC) at Orpington, Kent United Kingdom



Thanks for sharing this book contraforsa. It was a really interesting read. The book is now on its way to the next reader in Germany!! I hope you enjoy this book. Happy reading!

Journal Entry 18 by anastagebuch from Bremen, Bremen Germany on Sunday, August 30, 2009
The book arrived during last days but I received today after my vacations. Thank you BokOrm09 and thank you contraforsa! I will begin to read it and send it to the next person in the ring! Happy next week!

Journal Entry 19 by wingAnonymousFinderwing on Thursday, September 17, 2009
THANK YOU SO MUCH CONTRAFORSA for sharing this book! The book is now traveling to the next reader!

It was amazing and good to read. I like the two parts of every chapter, which allow me to lerned more about Albania, Greece and the interesting topic of migration. As a migrant the book let me think and reflect in another written way about the day a day of migrants, together with difficulties and joys, memories and fellings!

..."Leaving is a choice, a choice to break with the country of his birth.This break follows him fot the rest of his life. It will be the source of his sense of guilt and of freedom, rejection and denial, daydreaming and nostalgia, forgetting and melancholy, mood swings and schizophrenia. Only if he makes a success of life abroad, only then can he make peace with his own country"... Its a short border handbook with a huge and amazing content!

Happy reading!!!
Thank you Apolonia for the tip, many greetings;)

Journal Entry 20 by anastagebuch from Bremen, Bremen Germany on Thursday, September 17, 2009
The comment before(anonymousfinder) is done by me: anastagebuch! I m sorry I am not really awake ;)

Thanks again contraforsa, the book is now travelling to the next reader! Happy reading!

Journal Entry 21 by wingauweiawing from Ober-Ramstadt, Hessen Germany on Friday, September 18, 2009
the book arrived today and I´m very curious about it :-)

Journal Entry 22 by wingauweiawing from Ober-Ramstadt, Hessen Germany on Saturday, October 10, 2009
It was an excellent and interesting reading for me, fortunately easy written in english ! I´m familiar with the immigrants situation in Germany, because of my work and my engagement by "Pro Asyl", an organization, which will change for the better conditions of this personal group.
I enjoy the book because of the authentic style, so you can´t deprive it´s real life for many people. But other way it has a positive message, that you can change the situation for immigrants by little appliance : being kind, comprehensive and don´t feel predominant, because you don´t know how suddenly you will be in such a situation

Journal Entry 23 by wingauweiawing at Exchange/Trade, A Bookcrossing member -- Controlled Releases on Friday, October 16, 2009

Released 12 yrs ago (10/16/2009 UTC) at Exchange/Trade, A Bookcrossing member -- Controlled Releases



I´ve sent it days ago but forgotten to release it. So,now its on the way to Greece,enjoy it!

Journal Entry 24 by okyrhoe from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Arrived in Athens a few days ago, but I didn't have Internet access to j.e. promptly. Looking forward to reading this!

Journal Entry 25 by okyrhoe from Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Friday, November 13, 2009
I appreciate the way in which the dual narrative is spliced into 'this' side and 'the other' side of the Greek-Albanian border, and also into 'past' and 'present.'
Although the autobiographical passages recount intense experiences, the overall tone is detached, as if the narrator has distanced himself emotionally, and is unable or unwilling to go into great detail about those experiences.
Oftentimes I would make the logical connection with other first-person historical accounts, especially those describing persecution under the Nazi regime. Reading the Handbook I was looking for that unique angle, for what differentiates this 'contemporary' condition, from what happened in Europe decades ago, or what may be happening right now in another location. Maybe we are condemned to relive the past....and each time the 'victims' feel a surreal isolation in their experience, as if it is happening for the first time ever in the history of mankind. "They say that hell is one place but, in reality, hell is private and particular to each one of us."

The concept of the 'border syndrome' is a challenging one; it that made me ponder my own issues with (national) identity.
I grew up as a diaspora Greek. My identification as a Greek was more or less a virtual one, designated on 'paper' - my passport - and not something that I felt as intrinsic to my being. Living in a foreign country my 'Greekness' was not something I 'lived' from day to day. It was merely a 'fact' I had to state when asked 'who' & 'what' I was, and the only way I could prove it was through the nationality of my birth parents, and the data printed on my identification papers (my passport). Other than that, I couldn't find many words to define or explain my Greekness - I only knew what it was 'supposed' to be but I had very little verification of that concept since my family's experience was limited to short trips to the 'homeland' during the summer every other year.
When I finally came to live in Greece full-time, I was surprised to realize that my (idealized) concept of Greekness failed to correspond with reality on the ground.
Today I am still struggling to fit in. Oftentimes I find that others misidentify me as 'alien' or 'not Greek'. That is always an interesting experience, when I am 'mistaken' for a Rumanian, Polish, etc., immigrant woman. When this happens I see how it is to be treated as 'the other' - I am asked pointless questions, and basic health services that I am rightfully entitled to are provided only grudgingly by medical staff (as if I am untouchable). This Kafkaesque situation has resulted in the fact that I sometimes lie and give a fake surname - a more Greek-sounding one than the actual one - for the benefit of making my interaction with my fellow countrymen a less taxing experience.

Another personal testimony: My father's job abroad was semi-diplomatic; he and his family enjoyed the privileges of a 'laissez-passer' (white passport), as we traveled from one country to another. I remember as a child what it was like to casually drive past endless lines at "third-world" border crossings and to be spared the endless searches & interrogations by customs officials, in particular as we were driving through border zones where war refugees were struggling to escape the conflict. From an early age I understood the importance of that special travel document in securing our route to safety on the 'other' side.
Even today, I always make sure my passport is up-to-date, stamped with valid travel visas to 'safe' countries, and stored in an easy-to-obtain location, just in case I need to be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice. So, yes, I too suffer from a variant of the border syndrome!

I don't know whether I should be disturbed by this: Finishing the book I thought to myself, yes yes yes to everything, but on the whole Gazmend is too kind to us Greeks. It's my impression that there are so many horror stories one can compile of our treatment of immigrants, and that the situation is only becoming worse with time.

Note on translation - On the whole I think this is a very good translation from the Greek original, with one exception. In my opinion, "paddywagon" may have been a better choice than "Black Maria" for the Greek original "κλούβα."

* Gazmend's blog (in Greek)
* Comments
* Feet in Two Worlds review
* The Paper Trail podcast about the non-documentation limbo status of children of migrants in Greece
* Buried Unsung: Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre by Zeese Papanikolas.
* Albanian resources
* Balkan Departures
* East Looks West selections for further reading
* border poetics
* Words Without Borders

Update Nov. 16 - On its way to peggypostcard.

Journal Entry 26 by peggypostcard from Glen Iris, Victoria Australia on Thursday, December 3, 2009
I received the book on Monday - sorry for the couple of days delay in journalling it. I'm already half-way through and I like the format, part memoir, part critical analysis. Thanks Olga for sending the book, and also for clarifying what a 'Black Maria' is - I assumed it was some sort of truck, paddywagon makes more sense.

A wonderful book! It has certainly made me more aware of the issues facing immigrants and asylum-seekers.

Various bookcrossers have been unable to contact contraforsa, so I am rustling up some more readers so the book can continue its journey while we wait to hear from her.

Continuing Bookring:

D-face (ACT)
Dancesports (Tas)
karen07814 (UK > Int)

If contraforsa can't be contacted, we can send the book on to okyrhoe in Athens for safekeeping.

Journal Entry 27 by peggypostcard at Sydney, New South Wales Australia on Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Released 11 yrs ago (4/20/2010 UTC) at Sydney, New South Wales Australia



Apologies for my delay in getting this book moving again! It has been a busy time for me, finishing studies and going forth into the wide world. Now the book is travelling to D-face in Canberra.

Journal Entry 28 by D-face from Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia on Saturday, May 1, 2010
Thank you peggypostcard for sending this onto me. I will send it onto Dancesports this week.
Thank you also to contraforsa for launching this international bookring - it is a great pity that this book will have less difficulty crossing multiple borders than the author and its readers.
Thanks you also to the previous readers who have left postcards and notes inside the book flap.

It seems to me that for all the supposed support for a market economy and free movement of goods, the one area that there remain unwarranted restrictions is in the free movement of persons across artifical barriers known as borders.

A quick read and an interesting format with each chapter divided into memoir and analysis. A book covering this topic could be much longer and more emotionally explicit, but this is a good taster on an important topic.

Journal Entry 29 by Dancesports from Petcheys Bay, Tasmania Australia on Friday, May 7, 2010
Book has arrived safely. I have been travelling for work this week and it was here when I arrived home. I have a few book rings in my tbr pile and I am halfway through the next one. But I did have a sneak peak last night and was quickly on to chapter 6. I don't think it will take to long to read.

And thanks D-face for the extra surprise in the parcel

Journal Entry 30 by Dancesports at Petcheys Bay, Tasmania Australia on Sunday, May 30, 2010
Well it didn't actually take long to read but I did have several books on the go at the same time. I liked the dual style of the book to begin with but it became a little tiring after a while. I also like the fact that this book was about a topic and place that I knew very little about and had thought very little about, I am so glad that bookcrossing books are continuing to expand my world. thanks. I'll send on this week.

Journal Entry 31 by Dancesports at Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Monday, June 14, 2010

Released 11 yrs ago (6/14/2010 UTC) at Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases


The book is on it's way to the next reader.

Journal Entry 32 by karen07814 at Colchester, Essex United Kingdom on Saturday, June 19, 2010
as usual all the rings arrived at once, this one's number3 on tbr which makes it about 10 days from continuing on. Thanks for sending!
An excellent book for illustrating hardships suffered and inflicted. Some inflicted unwittingly by natives of whichever country.
A Rumanian who "lives" locally to me has tried his hardest to work here and has gained a couple of jobs. To nationalise he needs £90 and someone to sign as his employer. Fruit picking bosses have so far been reluctant to sign for him. May be it's something to do with his pay level.
This book also helped me nderstand why it is that he has benn here twice now rather than either staying or returning permanently.
Great for psychological insight.

Journal Entry 33 by karen07814 at Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Thursday, July 29, 2010

Released 11 yrs ago (7/30/2010 UTC) at Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece


over to you to look after, thank you

Journal Entry 34 by okyrhoe at Athens - Αθήνα, Attica Greece on Friday, March 4, 2011
Book has arrived in Athens, thanks karen07814!

I will try to release it soon.

For my own reference*: postmarked UK 03-08-10.
*I received 8 packages in the post today that have taken too long to arrive, so there's probably something going on with the Greek postal services. It doesn't make sense why they all arrived late and on the same day.

Journal Entry 35 by okyrhoe at book ring/ray, By Mail/Post/Courier -- Controlled Releases on Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Released 10 yrs ago (3/9/2011 UTC) at book ring/ray, By Mail/Post/Courier -- Controlled Releases


Raying-it-Forward -->

On its way by post to bellivas. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 36 by bellivas at Heraklion - Ηράκλειο , Heraklion Greece on Saturday, April 9, 2011
αν και το διαβασα σε μια δυσκολη περιοδο για μενα ,μου αρεσε παρα πολυ.Το εψαξα στα ελληνικα -εκδοσεις λιβανη-και το δωρισα στον πατερα μο.το συνιστω ανεπιφυλακτα για οποιον θελει να δει τους οικονομικους μεταναστες απο μια αλλη οπτικη γωνια.

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