The Gurugu Pledge by Juan-Tomas Avila Laurel (translated by Jethro Soutar)

Review published on June 3, 2018.

This is a very well-written book and you can see after you have spent time reading it why it won the English Pen Award.

Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel details the journey of desperate migrants from North Africa to Europe. The book goes into great detail about the ways in which these unfortunate souls try to survive. One way the migrants find comfort in their hardships is in the form of storytelling, each taking a turn to talk about the hardships/families they have left behind. There are some funny stories told mixed with very sad stories told with great emotion and as a reader you are drawn into them. This is a mark of great storytelling at its best.

The main problem I had with this novel was how short the story was. It is told in fewer than 200 pages; I needed to know more about the lives of the characters in the book. The author left me needing more information about their lives and how they will prosper (or not) in the West.

This book needs to be widely read. It can only promote a better understanding of the refugee crisis if this book was read in schools. The Gurugu Pledge front lines the refugee crisis, dealing with walls that have been built around them.

We need to knock down these walls and bridge trust and kindness so we call all tell the same story with a happy ending.

Ian Wells 4/4

The Gurugu Pledge by Juan-Tomas Avila Laurel and Jethro Soutar
And Other Stories 9781908276940 pbk Aug 2017

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