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January-February 2018

REVIEW: New fiction collection explores the migrant experience in Canada

Inside Djamila Ibrahim's Things Are Good Now

Jemicah Colleen Marasigan

9781487001889_1024x1024Things Are Good Now
By Djamila Ibrahim
House of Anansi, $19.95

Things Are Good Now by Djamila Ibrahim is a collection of fictional narratives that explore the emotional impact of migration on humans. It’s also a stark, and necessary, reminder of the real-life experiences migrants face on a daily basis. As a former acting senior advisor for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Ibrahim’s personal experience, including immigrating to Canada in 1990 from Ethiopia, was clearly an asset when writing her book.

While diverse characters are one of the book’s many strengths, Things Are Good Now excels best because Ibrahim covers such a wide range of issues. From dealing with racism in a post-9/11 world, struggling with identity and familial and societal expectations, and coping with regrets, Ibrahim thoughtfully and powerfully exposes many struggles of migration.

Standalone chapters give readers glimpses into the lives of men, women, and children, each character having no relation or interaction with the others. Their stories are all interconnected simply by themes, including belonging and hope.

While Ibrahim uses dialogue and other text to briefly explain the history of human migration and the migrant experience, it makes readers want to learn more. A relatable book for some and a new perspective for others, Things Are Good Now should be included on every to-be-read list. Each story is powerful and important, and each voice, while fictional, is a perfect representation of hard truths. These voices should be heard.

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