Pajtim Statovci

Portrait Pajtim Statovci
© Jonne Räsänen / Otava.

Finnish-Kosovar writer Pajtim Statovci was born in 1990. He was two years old when his family emigrated from Kosovo to Finland to avoid political unrest. Statovci studied comparative literature at the University of Helsinki, where he is pursuing his doctorate, as well as dramatic writing at the Aalto School of Arts, Design and Architecture.
He was still a student when his debut novel »Kissani Jugoslavia« (tr: My Cat Yugoslavia) appeared in 2014, which was awarded the renowned Helsingin-Sanomat Literature Prize for its symbolism and the masterful connection between reality and dream. The story takes place in the 1980s and deals with the problems of homosexuality and with the situation faced by immigrants in Finnish society. The novel was also translated to English in 2017 under the title »My Cat Yugoslavia« and received the International Dublin Literary Award. In 2018, the theatrical adaption premiered at the Finnish National Theater in Helsinki.Statovci’s second novel »Tiranan sydän« (2016; Eng. »Crossing«, 2019) is set against the backdrop of Albanian myth and legend. It tells the story of two young men who leave their traumatized homeland in the wake of the rule of Enver Hoxha and communism in order to get to Italy. The two young men seek to make a new home in a foreign country while dealing with the personal alienation of their own bodies and its sexuality. The English-language translation was a finalist for the U.S. National Book Award in 2019. Statovci’s third novel »Bolla« appeared in 2019. The story begins in Priština in the mid-1990s. There, the young, newly married Arsim meets the Serbian medical student Miloš in a café. An affair develops between them, and within a short time everything turns upside down for Arsim: his wife reveals that she is pregnant and he responds with violence. His connection to Miloš breaks off at the beginning of the war because Arsim goes abroad with his family and Miloš begins a career in the military. Arsim finds him again many years later, but his great love is no longer the man he knew. Statovci artistically interweaves the love story with the legend of the Albanian dragon Bolla, who sleeps all year round and only wakes up on St. George’s Day and devours the person he first sees. Statovci was awarded the Finlandia Literature Prize for best Finnish novel for his third work in 2019. The jury called the work »a shocking and touching novel that impresses with its expressiveness.« Translations of the work into English, German, and other languages are in the works.
The author lives in Helsinki.