Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Gazmend Kapllani and Border Syndrome
This short book is written in thirty sections which combine the stories of a group of those Albanians who, after the fall of the Communist regime, poured over the border with Greece, as Kapllani himself did in 1991, with reflections on what he calls "border syndrome" which is "an illness that's difficult to describe with precision". There are vivid moments, like the first visit of the Albanians from a brutal and Spartan political regime to a supermarket in northern Greece, and overall the book offers an insight into the condition of the migrant in a week when British newspapers reported the deaths from hypothermia of some European migrants living in tents in the British countryside. We tend to think that exploitation and hardship of a kind meted out to migrants in our midst happens elsewhere, not in the farms that supply our cheap supermarket fruit and vegetables, making us complicit in that suffering. Fortunately, migrants of this kind conveniently stay out of sight so that we don't have to think about them and our responsibility for what they go through.