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Book: Hinterland 8 mars 2012

Posted by Acturca in Art-Culture, Books / Livres, Immigration.
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The Independent (UK) March 8, 2012, p. 44
The Thursday Book

By Anita Sethi

This intensely evocative novel opens on the border of Turkey, as the snows in the distant Balkans have melted, swelling the river that two brothers must cross. Two Afghani war orphans, 14-year-old Aryan and his eightyear-old brother Kabir, are on a perilous journey by foot, by boat, in the back of trucks and trailers. They have fled from Afghanistan for England through “Kabultehranistanbulathensromeparislondon”, as Kabir chants to raise their spirits. The compelling narrative traces their journey towards the English border, diving in and out of their traumatic memories and poignant dreams of the future. Hinterland harrowingly exposes the hidden world of migrants.

“The emotional as well as geographical borderlands are sensitively delineated”

The emotional as well as geographical borderlands are sensitively delineated in this visceral and moving debut: those at which love tips into hate, tenderness into brutality, hope into despair. The author details the forbidding landscapes through which the orphans travel, and subtly explores treacherous psychological terrain as the brothers try to ward off “demon fears” and nightmares.

Hinterland paints a shocking portrait of some of the most displaced people on Earth, who fear leaving traces of their existence; whose temporary homes are huts in thorn bushes soon swept away by the authorities; whose ties with loved ones have been brutally severed. But these lives linger in the readers’ imagination, thanks to the author’s skill at depicting their disturbing realities.

The vulnerable brothers cross the threshold of bearable pain, exploited and abused as they undergo months of unpaid labour in Greece, long hours in a workshop in Turkey, venture along Lake Van in a leaky boat, struggle across freezing mountains and deserts, attempt to breach frontiers at night to avoid patrols.

In this impressively accomplished novel, Caroline Brothers controls the stylistic border between tenses and perspectives, deftly dipping between the thirdand first-person, the past and present. At its devastating finale, when the intimate voice of the protagonist is cut short, the loss would flood the hardest heart with compassion as Hinterland reaches the chillingly thin frontier between life and death.

Hinterland by Caroline Brothers, Bloomsbury Publishing

Order for £13.49 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030

 

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