‘This book is fiction for the reader who cannot believe it. But for anyone open to it, it is nonfiction …’
Drawing on the author’s own experiences as an asylum seeker in the Netherlands – a darkly funny insight into the mind and soul of a refugee.
‘You have to take care, Mr Karim,’ she said, ‘this is your future.’ With the word ‘this’ she picked up the report from the first hearing. I was amused at the idea that my future would be determined by a few sheets of paper, and not by my health, my happiness or my dreams. Or a never-ending barbeque on the beach, or travelling the world on a legitimate passport.
Amsterdam Airport, 1998. Samir Karim steps off a plane from Vietnam, flushes his fake passport down the toilet, and requests asylum. Fleeing Iraq to avoid conscription into Saddam Hussein’s army, he has spent seven years anonymously wandering through Asia. Now, safely in the heart of Europe, he is sent to an asylum centre and assigned a bed in a shared dorm—where he will spend the next nine years.
Taking its title from the ‘two blankets, three sheets, a towel, a pillow, and a pillow-case’ that constitute the items Samir is given on his arrival at the Asylum Centre, and are the only things he owns during his nine years there, this book is the story of how Samir navigates his way around the absurdities of Dutch bureaucracy while trying his best to get along with his 500 new housemates.
Told with compassion and a unique sense of humour, this is an inspiring tale of survival, a close-up view of the hidden world of refugees and human smugglers, and a sobering reflection of our times.
This is the story of Samir Karim, a refugee from Iraq, escaping the regime of Saddam Hussein. It’s part autobiographical and all true.
Samir travels from Iraq via many countries including Thailand and eventually arrives in the Netherlands. He destroys his false passport and claims asylum. It’s here the tale really begins, with flashbacks to his past, the fearful journey he has made and the 9 years he spent in an asylum centre.
“Don’t let the sheep know you’re afraid “
It tells of the mindless bureaucracy, the lack of basic empathy by the ‘authorities’, who seem to just follow the rules like a call centre script.
The experiences of these men, women and children that have made them make such perilous journeys just to be safe is heartbreaking. Those of us who live in a safe and secure world really should take a long hard look at ourselves for our prejudices and how some people treat others who just want the same for themselves and their families.
While this is a difficult emotive subject, Rodaan tells it with such grace and humour. It’s honest, heartfelt and definitely eye opening. Compelling and certainly thought provoking. A must read.
Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour, for the promotional materials and a free copy of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.
You can buy a copy here: https://amzn.to/2T2WAzI
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
RODAAN AL GALIDI is a poet and writer. Born in Iraq and trained as a civil engineer, he has lived in the Netherlands since 1998. As an undocumented asylum seeker he did not have the right to attend language classes, so he taught himself to read and write Dutch. His novel De autist en de postduif (‘The Autist and the Carrier Pigeon’) won the European Union Prize for Literature in 2011—the same year he failed his Dutch citizenship course. Two Blankets, Three Sheets, already a bestseller in the Netherlands, is his most successful novel to date.
Jonathan Reeder, a native of New York and longtime resident of Amsterdam, enjoys a dual career as a literary translator and performing musician.
Critical acclaim for Rodaan Al Galidi
‘Al Galidi holds up a mirror to us all. A mirror that we should look into.’
―ADRIAAN VAN DIS
‘Two Blankets, Three Sheets is a valuable and rich novel about fear, uncertainty, arbitrariness, and hopelessness, written by someone who was, thankfully, able to use his new language as a lifebuoy.’ ―Tzum
‘For all its heavy themes―the tragedy of miscommunication, loss of identity and meaning of life, humiliation, and the incapacity to truly connect―it is also a very light and humorous book.’ ―Literair Nederland