Author: Fabio Geda
Translator: Howard Curtis
Release date: 7th July 2011
Genre: True Life Stories
Target audience: 12+/ Adult Crossover
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
One night before putting him to bed, Enaiatollah's mother tells him three things: don't use drugs, don't use weapons, don't steal. The next day he wakes up to find she isn't there. They have fled their village in Ghazni to seek safety outside Afghanistan but his mother has decided to return home to her younger children. Ten-year-old Enaiatollah is left alone in Pakistan to fend for himself. In a book based on a true story, Italian novelist Fabio Geda describes Enaiatollah's remarkable five-year journey from Afghanistan to Italy where he finally managed to claim political asylum. His ordeal took him through Iran, Turkey and Greece, working on building sites in order to pay people-traffickers, and enduring the physical misery of border crossings squeezed into the false bottoms of lorries or trekking across inhospitable mountains. A series of almost implausible strokes of fortune enabled him to get to Turin, where he found help from an Italian family and met Fabio Geda. The result of their friendship is this unique book in which Enaiatollah's engaging, moving voice is brilliantly captured by Geda's subtle storytelling. In Geda's hands, Enaiatollah's journey becomes a universal story of stoicism in the face of fear, and the search for a place where life is liveable.
This novel is an amazing true story about an individual's will to survive and live a life worthy of a human being.
Enaiatollah, a young Afghan boy, was left as a child in Pakistan, waking up one morning without his mother. His mother left him in Pakistan to save him from the danger at home, but that left Enaiatollah all alone to fend for himself. From the start, he was a fighter, determined to live and enjoy a somewhat normal life, but he went through a lot of hardships and countries to achieve his goal.
I do not normally read true stories, but Enaiatollah's life story truly touched me and even had me a bit open-mouthed and teary-eyed at times. By explaining his story, Enaiatollah reveals the horrors happening in the Middle East, as well as the horrors that humans are capable to inflict upon one another. Enaiatollah used to be one of the people at the bottom of society, but what makes his story special is his determination. He was always filled with a strong will to survive and lead a normal life, worthy of a human being. He wanted to go to school, have somewhere to sleep and eat, and have work. He wanted normalcy and he achieved it. Some of his success has to be ascribed to sheer luck and one can definitely be glad for that, but foremost, Enaiatollah may teach us that by trying, by fighting, by wanting to survive, one may achieve a lot. Enaiatollah left Afhganistan and travelled through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Greece, experiencing different hardships on the way, to finally land in Italy and find his piece of happiness. His story is truly inspirational.
I loved the way the story was told, in first person (from Enaiatollah's point of view), with simple, yet poignant narration. The story is also informational, revealing the way of life of those less fortunate (sadly a majority of the people) living in the countries where Enaiatollah lived for a while.
It is hard to review a true story, especially of living person. I cannot review one's life, but I can review a book and the way it's written, and I can say that this book is a truly well written account of one man's life. It is both touching and insightful, informative and personal.
I think you should read what Enaiatollah has to say because his story touches the very current issues happening in our world: human-trafficking, political intrigues, wars stemming from prejudices, discrimination of different races and religions. It is not an easy journey, but it's worth one's time.
Becky says: Lovely review, Irena. I also don't often read true life stories. I think they are so emotional and at time harrowing. But this book sounds like it holds an important portrayal of life in the Middle East and it is great to see translated fiction reaching the UK market.
Both our thanks go to Random House Children's Books for sending the book to review.