CULTURE

Small diary, long journey

Gasmed Kaplani migrated to Greece from Albania 15 years ago. His first book, «Mikro imerologio ton synoron» («Small Border Diary»), published recently by Livanis, records his life in Albania, why he and his compatriots felt the need to migrate, the process of leaving and the even more difficult process of integrating into new countries. «My generation longed to hear the magic words ‘the borders are open,’» Kaplani told Kathimerini. «We were the fourth consecutive generation to live behind closed borders and we hoped that we might manage to get out. «I am a border person. I see myself as a cultural hybrid that has nothing to do with multiculturalism,» he said. «My heroes scarcely have a present: they have a past and a future. They are in a fluid, transitional phase. In my book I wanted to smash all the stereotypes about migrants. I don’t idealize, I individualize. And through individualization comes understanding.» Kaplani’s book came out a month ago, and it is already high on the best-seller list. He says mainly second-generation migrants are reading it, as well as many Greeks. «What I write has displeased some people in Albania and some people in Greece,» Kaplani commented. «But some migrants find the book gripping, especially young people who have grown up and studied in Greece, because they learn about the country their parents came from. One Albanian said to me: ‘This book is like sushi – easy to eat but hard to digest.’ Many of them identified with the hero. The Greeks are more skeptical.» The book «is about the two ‘we’ who stop looking at each other and look at themselves. They meet and I describe that encounter. It has a comic and a tragic side, and a lot of humanity. It is as if history had played an incredible joke and drew back the cloak that covered them both.»