The past century has seen an unprecedented movement of people across borders seeking refuge from war, famine, economic distress, or religious, political or personal persecution. Three European writers, each with personal experiences of migration, discuss their writings about the often perilous journeys and the uncertain welcome migrants and refugees face when they leave their homes in search of a better life. Najat El Hjachmi writes a fictional account of her own childhood migration from Morocco to Catalonia in The Last Patriarch and essays on today’s refugees from North Africa. Christos Ikonomou’s Good Will Come from the Sea tells of the tough times that internal migrants face as they seek respite from economic distress in today’s Greece. Pajtim Statovci, himself a child refugee from Kosovo to Finland, deals with the challenges his characters experience in trying to feel at home in a new country, and even in their own bodies as they explore new identities in his novel Crossing.
Patjim Statovci was born in Kosovo in 1990 and moved with his family to Finland when he was two years old. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Helsinki. His first book, My Cat Yugoslavia, won the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize for best debut novel and his second, Crossing, won the Toisinkoinen Literature Price. He received the 2018 Helsinki Writer of the Year Award.
Najat El Hachmi was born in Morocco in 1979. At the age of eight, she emigrated to Catalonia, Spain with her family. Her novel The Last Patriarch won the prestigious Ramon Llull Prize in 2008. She has published one other book, an autobiographical work called I Too Am Catalan.
Christos Ikonomou was born in Athens in 1970. He has published three collections of short stories, The Woman on the Rails (2003), Something Will Happen, You'll See (Greek edition 2010; Archipelago Books, 2016), and Good Will Come From the Sea (Greek edition 2014; Archipelago Books 2018). Something Will Happen, You'll See won Greece's prestigious Best Short-Story Collection State Award and became the most reviewed Greek book of 2011. His work has been translated into six languages. Italy's La Repubblica has called him "the Greek Faulkner."