Fictional stories that bring reality close to home
By Lex Voytek
I was originally looking to read a horror novel or a thriller – ‘tis the season. In many ways, “The Road More Travelled: Tales of those seeking refuge” depicts a kind of horror that crime thrillers and killer clowns cannot touch.
These are horror stories in which the villains are regular, clueless people. They were the characters who disagreed with Hitler, but still thought he did a good job getting the economy on track for Germans.
Ranging from tales set in the ‘30s during Hitler’s regime, to those of refugees coming to Greece, the collection of short stories has a common thread that masterfully paints a convincing picture of the complex tragedy endured by people who must flee from their homes.
This collection has a good balance of gut-wrenching calamity, shocking gore and raw depictions of the deadly and dehumanizing ordeals that refugees endure, as well as the subtler horrors of displacement.
“No Room to Dance,” by Rosie Cullen is set presumably during WWII from the perspective of a little girl, Jenny, whose family has taken in a Jewish girl named Sophia.
Jenny is angry that she has to suddenly share her life with this newcomer. She’s is so blinded by her own sacrifices that she doesn’t think twice about the sacrifices Sophia has had to make.
This story perfectly portrays the suspicions many people feel about refugees through a child’s eyes, while avoiding blatant parallels to the political rhetoric on the dangers and sacrifices of letting refugees find safety in our country.
Another standout is “Those Who Sell the Guns,” by Ricki Thomas. This is the final story, and it appropriately ends with a bang.
This first-person narrative tells the story of a British family living in 1970s Iran. It’s, at first, an idyllic description of friends and happiness – until the day the family goes on a picnic and stumbles upon a bloody massacre in the hills.
This story is particularly clever in that the displaced family is British, so the reader is not suspicious of their need to find safety in the western world, but the story gives the reader room to realize their own potential for bias.
The stories in “The Road More Travelled” are carefully selected to depict the many players involved when people seek refuge. The brilliance of these stories and their collective ability to weave the intricate characters that arise in these times of crisis is stunning.
“The Road More Travelled: Tales of those seeking refuge” is available on Kindle and in paperback.
Lex Voytek is a freelance book reviewer.
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