Join Finnish author Pajtim Statovci at Scandinavia House for an in-depth discussion of his debut novel My Cat Yugoslavia (Pantheon, April 2017). My Cat Yugoslavia is a love story set in two countries in two radically different moments in time, bringing together a young man, his mother, a boa constrictor, and one capricious cat.

Statovci’s debut novel is a haunting literary work unafraid of examining abuse, sexual orientation and immigration. A unique addition to the literary genre, the award-winning novel possesses a driven narrative with the power to spellbind.


In 1980s Yugoslavia, a young Muslim girl is married off to a man she hardly knows, but what was meant to be a happy match goes quickly wrong. Soon thereafter her country is torn apart by war and she and her family flee. Years later, her son, Bekim, grows up a social outcast in present-day Finland, not just an immigrant in a country suspicious of foreigners, but a gay man in an unaccepting society. Aside from casual hookups, his only friend is a boa constrictor whom, improbably—he is terrified of snakes—he lets roam his apartment. Then, during a visit to a gay bar, Bekim meets a talking cat who moves in with him and his snake. It is this witty, charming, manipulative creature who starts Bekim on a journey back to Kosovo to confront his demons and make sense of the magical, cruel, incredible history of his family. And it is this that, in turn, enables him finally, to open himself to true love—which he will find in the most unexpected place.

About Pajtim Statovci

Pajtim Statovci moved from Kosovo to Finland with his family when he was two years old. His debut novel, My Cat Yugoslavia, relates in sensitive and finely tuned prose the inner conflict and questions about one’s identity that immigration, homosexuality, and the past might stir. The novel, published in 2014, received widespread acclaim among critics and readers alike, and Statovci won the Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize in the category ‘Best Debut’.

The awarding jury praised the still only 24-year old author’s ability to combine the dreamlike with the realistic, and give old symbols new meaning and power. At present, Pajtim Statovci studies comparative literature at the University of Helsinki, and screenwriting at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.



Images by Anna Kurki and Pahteon

TUE—5-2-2017—7 PM, free