Outlook 24
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Exit West by Mohsin Hamid Imagine Woodbridge playing host to 1,000 refugees. There are drones flying overhead, troops on the ground and for the local population a world of peace and stability turned upside down. Highly unlikely, of course – London perhaps or another big city? But it is what we are told is a daily occurrence somewhere in the world. Refugees and extremism in Europe only serve to bring the issue closer to home. In his new Man Booker-shortlisted novel Exit West, Mohsin Hamid gives the reader a surreal, mystical idea of what it might be like to be a refugee. War, violence, family life and ultimately departure are all seen through the prism of a love affair. Nadia and Saeed meet over coffee and end up opening a series of doors to new lives: a Greek island; London; and ultimately California. Making the reader think Exit West is a beautifully crafted and well-written novel. It picks through language with the delicacy of a wading bird on the River Deben. It doesn’t judge, but it makes the reader think what it must be like to face the pressures of Nadia and Saeed. What do you do about a love affair where nothing and nobody stays the same and privacy is the rarest of commodities? The choice for Nadia and Saeed is whether to go through the next door. They must adapt, meet new people and keep moving, demands which eventually affect their relationship. Is it a good book? Well, it’s a thoughtful, somewhat dispassionate read. We all have immigration in our blood, but to run your life as a refugee – this takes some doing. NC Voices of Iraq ‘I was living in Qaraqosh, a town with just Christian people. About 60,000 people lived there. I was an art teacher and I also had a mobile phone shop. In 2014, ISIS attacked Qaraqosh. There were three choices for us: convert to Islam, pay the Jizya (tax for non-Muslims), or be killed. We fled Qaraqosh in just our clothes.’ Ammar One of many ‘Voices of Iraq’ recorded for a recent report by the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. See www.frrme.org.