A storm blew in from Paradise by Johannes Anyuru
Original title – En storm kom från paradiset
Translator – Rachel Wilson -Broyles
Source – review copy
It’s not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You’re still young, that’s your fault,
There’s so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy.
I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy,
To be calm when you’ve found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you’ve got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.
Father and son by Cat stevens is the song that leaped in my head .
I said I would tell the story the opposite way round to the last book I reviewed .This is someone leaving his home in Africa (Uganda in the seventies ) and making a new home and life in Europe as a refugee .Another thing has happened since I read this book and that is the story in the book has maybe become more relevant than it was earlier in the year given the current crisis in europe of refugees . The writer of this book Johannes Anyuru was born to a Ugandan father and swedish mother , he first started writing as a poet and spoken word artist , this is his second novel and the first to be translated to English .
The first time he heard Amin speak on the radio was the same day he received the news of the coup from the Greek cadet .He had gone to the barracks and sat on his bed ; one of his classmates was there , an Acholi .P passed on the news to him . and both of them tried to call relatives from a payphone in the corridor .
Idi Amin took the country whilst the father P was in Greece learning to fly .Note the mention of his classmates tribal heritage
The book is a story of a father and son and is told in the here and now and back in the seventies when P the father in this story is a pilot in trains for the Ugandan airforce in Greece .He grew up in a rural village in uganda , had lost his own parents and had an older brother that to say the least was rather hands on in his care of him .So he fights his way to be a pilot and train at the point he is training .The country’s regime changes when Amin seizes power and this leads to him trying to escape after returning home and finding tribal lines have changed .So p tries to get back to europe . We follow him through interrogation by people in Tanzania (the neighbour of Uganda ) , but this shows the tribal lines of the people don’t always follow the lines that craved up africa on the map as the main thing they have against him is his heritage .The second part of the book is P son’s story of him trying to write his fathers story .
Here is the body ; it had its history , it came out of a life that could have been a different life .But a storm blew in .I stand beside my brother .Soon we will have to push the alarm button and tell them .But for a moment we stand on either side of the body .I take of the oxygen mask and hang it beside the bed .A storm blew in from paradise .The storm was life
The title is the last lines as father and son are together .I was touched by these words very poetic .
This is autobiography as fiction this is a son trying to find his father and trace his route back to his roots and that of his father . It is about fatherless families both his own and his fathers , this is a story that crops up so often how many Steven speilberg film had a missing father at their heart ! This is also a story of lost dreams in one generation but the hope of being in a safe place the story of the journey refugees take from a pilot to no one is such a common journey .I myself worked in a factory in Germany alongside a number of Kosovar couple one of whom was a professor of Albanian literature and her husband work on the Balkan version of match of the day .I can see why this was such a huge hit in his homeland and why it is so poignant a read now .There will be a good many sons in thirty years writing their stories but how many will be in english !!!! Sorry .
Have you a story of refugees that has touched you ?