Reading can be an escape, something transportative that takes you to different countries, cultures and states of mind. It can take you to all the places that Donald Trump doesn’t want you to go.
Huzzah for Deep Vellum bringing this book to the US – it highlights stories we need to hear. Writers from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya were “asked to develop a fictional response to Trump’s discriminatory ban, exploring themes of exile, travel, and restrictions on movement”. The resulting short stories, all in translation, range from realistic to fantastic.
I ended up reading each story in one gulp, often while on the train to work. When I got to the end I’d sit with it while the landscape slid past – people are going through this. It’s fiction, but it’s real. Even the most fantastic stories have an air of ‘lying to tell the truth’, using unbelievable circumstances to skewer reality. All but one use first person, holding us close, refusing any comfort afforded by distance.
We follow someone doing whatever necessary to get to safety, visit a fantasy-like village above the clouds, and follow refugees as they put on a play (of sorts). As with any collection I liked some stories more than others, but they all got me out of my brain and own life experiences, which is the point. A great starting point for anyone interested in the people and cultures that some in power would rather we ignore.
Thanks to Deep Vellum and Edelweiss for providing a review copy.