Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: In the Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda

Title:In the Sea There Are Crocodiles
Author:Fabio Geda (Howard Curtis- Translator)
Doubleday Books
Pub. Date:8/9/2011
ISBN:0385534736 (ISBN13: 9780385534734)

When ten-year-old Enaiatollah Akbari’s small village in Afghanistan falls prey to Taliban rule in early 2000, his mother shepherds the boy across the border into Pakistan but has to leave him there all alone to fend for himself. Thus begins Enaiat’s remarkable and often punish­ing five-year ordeal, which takes him through Iran, Turkey, and Greece before he seeks political asylum in Italy at the age of fifteen. 

Along the way, Enaiat endures the crippling physical and emotional agony of dangerous border crossings, trekking across bitterly cold mountain pathways for days on end or being stuffed into the false bottom of a truck. But not every­one is as resourceful, resilient, or lucky as Enaiat, and there are many heart-wrenching casualties along the way. 

Based on Enaiat’s close collaboration with Italian novelist Fabio Geda and expertly rendered in English by an award- winning translator, this novel reconstructs the young boy’s memories, perfectly preserving the childlike perspective and rhythms of an intimate oral history. 
Told with humor and humanity, In the Sea There Are Crocodiles brilliantly captures Enaiat’s moving and engaging voice and lends urgency to an epic story of hope and survival.

(Summary and cover via Goodreads)

Enaiatollah Akbari has lived a fairly normal life in Afghanistan, that is until one day when he finds himself being rushed away from his village by his mother. The Taliban has taken over, and Enaiat's mother does not want him there. She leaves him in Pakistan, and Enaiat must learn to take care of himself. Constantly wanting a better life, he finds himself trying to find ways to improve his living conditions. This often involves trusting human traffickers to get him from place to place. Enaiat will travel to Iran, Turkey, Greece, and finally Italy where he seeks asylum. Of course, his path is never easy. However, Enaiat will not rest until he has found a way to make his life more like what he wants it to be.

This was a very interesting story on a couple levels. The first thing that struck me was the things a mother will do to protect her child. Enaiat's mother knew the life they were going to experience in Afghanistan was not the one she wanted Enaiat to have. The only way to try and improve thing for him were to smuggle him out of the country. However, she did have other children and family. So she leaves Enaiat in Iran. I can't imagine how hard this must have been for her, not knowing whether Enaiat would survive all this. She was willing to give him a chance though, and this was probably the best she could do for him. I'm glad she eventually gets to discover that her efforts were successful.

Of course Enaiat's story after getting to Iran is equally amazing. He survived with some good instincts and a lot of luck. It was so sad to see him and so many people trying to get themselves smuggled to new countries just to try and live a good life. I found it interesting how Enaiat seemed to keep running into people he knew. They clearly have some ways to communicate back to their friends in other countries. The story is told in a very interesting way. It feels very much like you're sitting listening to someone tell their story as opposed to reading their words. This book made me appreciate my life greatly, but it also made me want to help other people like Enaiat. His story was incredibly moving, and I hope that he continues to have a wonderful life where he is now.

Galley provided for review.

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