A bracingly inventive novel, from a writer I am beginning to admire hugely. Told in four parts, the first three of which are individual stories, with the fourth part being where they all intertwine, beautifully.
The first section is Farouk’s story – that of a refugee fleeing the war destroying his country, Syria. He is an educated man, a medical man, who hopes to carry on with that work wherever he manages to settle. What he loses and how he loses it, in the course of his journey, is heart-wrenching and horrifying: the realisation of quite what they have let themselves in for, when their group climb aboard the boat that they believe will carry them across the sea to their new home, is shattering.
Lampy, was in love but is now heartbroken. He isn’t handling it well. Which isn’t great as he is spends some of his time driving old-folk from their home to various appointments across the area, in a battered old mini-van.
While John does not have the power, financial or social he used to have, and his most recent and most ill-judged affair, comes to an end that leaves him unbalanced.
The language is swift and easy, the tales flow along and the reader is completely wrapped up in them: Ryan is a most engaging and humane writer.