by Pajtim Statovci
Translated from the Finnish by David Hackston
Pantheon, 2021; Faber, 2023

Arsim is twenty-two, newly married, cautious – an Albanian in Kosovo trying to keep his head down and finish his studies as the country creeps toward war. Then he meets Milos, a Serb, and begins a secret life.Arsim and Miloš’s unlikely affair is derailed by the outbreak of war, which sends Arsim’s fledgling family abroad and timid Miloš spiraling down a dark path.Bolla is the story of what happens when passion and history collide – when a relationship, already forbidden and laced with danger, is ripped apart by war and migration, separated by nations and fate.“Bolla is a splendid achievement and Statovci a major talent.”
—Steve Heighton, The New York Times Book Review

“Devastating . . . Statovci considers the horrors of the Balkan conflicts as he recounts the lovers’ diverging paths in a story of loss and thwarted opportunities.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Pajtim Statovci’s Bolla abounds with harrowing situations, from its narrator’s struggles with a homophobic and repressive society to the longstanding effects of conflict in the Balkans at the end of the twentieth century. The incorporation of mythic elements contrasts with the specificity of the main plotline, but neither aspect of this novel winds up where you expect it to.”
—Tobias Carroll, Words Without Borders

“An eloquent story of desire and displacement, a melancholy symphony in a heartbreaking minor key. Statovci is a master.”
Publishers Weekly, starred

“An unflinching consideration of the long aftereffects of an affair cut short.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred

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