Random House UK|August 1, 2011|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-846-55476-6
A best seller in Italy, a beautiful, heartbreaking novel based on the true story of an Afghan boy’s journey in search of safety. 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 Afghanistant 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.
The true story of Enaiatollah Akbari is one wrought with immense courage. At the age of ten, Enaiatollah is abandoned by his mother. One night before going to bed she told him three things: “don’t use drugs, don’t use weapon, don’t steal.” The following morning when Enaiatollah woke up his mother was gone. Fearful and not knowing what to do, he asks the man in charge of the place where they are staying if he could hire him to work so he could make some money. The man grunted and said he’d only allow him to work the one day and not for money but for food. Enaiatollah worked himself to death that day and the following day he walked across the street to another business establishment. There he met a man who agreed to allow him to sell various items such as: cigarette lighters, fans, decks of cards, and other small items from a box. It was agreed that Enaiatollah would receive a cut of what he sold. Unfortunately, this job didn’t pan out so well so he instead decided to leave and try to get to Italy.
For a ten-year-old, Enaiatollah was a very intelligent little boy who was well-mannered and wasn’t afraid to work. Through connections, and working at various construction sites for a few months at a time and saving his money to pay off people-traffickers, his journey took him over mountains and terrain that was extremely difficult to navigate. Finally reaching Italy, he finds a family that is willing to help him and also there he also meets the author of this book, Fabio Geda who is a journalist.
It took a great deal of courage, fortitude, determination, and resilience to accomplish what Enaiatollah did at such a young age. It boggles my mind that a very young 10-year-old child could accomplish such a feat. All he wanted was somewhere to live and somewhere to belong.
I’ll definitely be passing word of this book along to other people.