Few emerging writers could turn the story of a talking cat that prompts a young gay immigrant to confront his demons in his native Kosovo into an internationally lauded debut novel. But Pajtim Statovci managed just this with My Cat Yugoslavia, which the New York Times has hailed “a marvel [and] a remarkable achievement”. The exciting young author – who moved from Kosovo to Finland as a child – chats to author Peter Polites about his brilliantly imaginative debut novel.

Pajtim Statovci (International)

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Pajtim Statovci moved from Kosovo to Finland with his family when he was two years old, and holds an MA in comparative literature from the University of Helsinki. His first novel, My Cat Yugoslavia, received widespread acclaim among critics and readers alike, and won Pajtim the prestigious Helsingin Sanomat Literature Prize. 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. Statovci’s second novel, Heartlines, won the Toisinkoinen Literature Prize in 2016.

Peter Polites (Australian)

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Peter Polites is a Western Sydney-based writer. In 2014 he wrote and appeared in the Sweatshop performance writing production Three Jerks. In 2015 he was a recipient of the WestWords writing fellowship. He wrote Steps into Katouna, a performance text for Urban Theatre Projects that was put on for Sydney Festival 2017. Down the Hume is his first novel: it is part noir, part melodrama, part queer and all Western Sydney.