We have become eternal emigrants since we crossed the most damned border in the Balkans, and perhaps in the world: the border between Albania and Yugoslavia, ie Macedonia, on the shores of Lake Ohrid between Pogradec and St. Naum, the border that stretched across the lake, then by land on the other shore, and eventually ending up in ourselves.
Wherever we went, we carried the border within us, it became a hidden part of us. In the family, since the boundary that cut our lives was set, starting from Grandpa, Grandma, Father and Mother to me - the narrator, we have carried our part of the history of the border and our part of the border within us. Ever since the time when the family was doomed to extinction, due to the sudden and sinister blows of history, it was as if someone had determined that in my family it was my duty to record the hundred-year history of the border.
We realized early on that crossing the border was actually coming to the freedom we had lost, that it meant saving from the death that was on our heels. Our lives, young and old, are forever marked by a border. It can even be said that, over time, we have become border people, wherever fate would take us.
Everyone in our family had their share of the border story during the 20th century. No matter how different they were from each other, each of these stories fit into a vast narrative of the border, connecting several generations marked by its existence. We never found out how many borders should be crossed without ever discovering the way back to the homeland...
* * *
Luan Starova (1941, Pogradec, Albania) since 1974, after a master's and doctorate in Zagreb, specialized in the field of modern French literature at the Sorbonne in Paris and continues his career as a university professor at the Faculty of Philology in Skopje. In two terms he was the ambassador of the SFRY in Tunisia and Palestine, then the first ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia to France, the permanent representative to UNESCO and the non-resident ambassador to Spain and Portugal. He writes in Macedonian, Albanian and French. Until 1991, he was mostly known for his essays, travelogues and literary studies. Since 2003, he has been a member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MANU), a member of the Mediterranean Academy and a member of the Albanian Academy of Sciences.
He is the author of The Balkan Saga, his well known and valued series of twelve novels, translated into numerous languages.
- ISBN: 978-953-8075-96-4
- Dimensions: 136 x 210 cm
- Number of pages: 216
- Cover: paperback
- Year of the edition: 2021
- Original title: Граница
- Original language: Macedonian
- Translation: Hašim Bahtijari
24 sata (Bestbook), December 3ʳᵈ 2021, Petra Miočić Mandić
Kronike Velike Gorice, December 16ᵗʰ 2021, Dražena Petrišić
This seemingly cheerful book, with its intimate layering of characters and their destinies, testifies to the Balkan tragedy. The author speaks to us not only as an Albanian refugee, emigrant, former Yugoslav, Macedonian citizen, but also testifies as a Balkan, Mediterranean and European.
Reading The Border at the same time means being ready to indulge in the not at all easy and simple, humanistic human instinct to share and empathize with others - this is probably the greatest pledge and confirmation of the precious catharsis provided by this authentic artistic expression. In The Border lies the secret formula for the value of a special literary confession.
There are writers who, no matter how hard they try, have never been able to clearly define their central themes; there are writers whose basic theme can be sensed and from time to time translated into a coherent literary text, but in long periods of writing they are completely lost in attempts and wanderings. Luan Starova belongs to the category of writers whose work is thematically consistent and monolithic, as if carved in marble; in short, his entire opus is thematically consistent and expressed in one old word - emigration.