A collection of three disquieting novellas featuring young women seeking better lives, from prolific Venezuelan-Danish author Tarazona (Daggryets Barn, 2014).
In the first novella, 29-year-old Saja, a well-educated, formerly well-off Sri Lankan, finally accepts that her political prisoner husband is dead. She seeks asylum in Denmark, but her life at the refugee camp there is troublesome. Forced to deal with racism, jealousy and would-be rapists, Saja finally receives word her application has been approved by the Danish Immigration Service. Building a new life for herself, she becomes involved with Peter, an immigration employee who is fired due to their relationship—a minor hurdle as they work toward a future together. In the second story, young Yonna’s entire Wayuu family is massacred by a rival clan. After her captor rapists tire of her, she finds a degree of safety weaving for a tradeswoman in Maracaibo. She is rescued by Dorothea “Thea” Weiss, a German expatriate. They form a close bond, and newly confident Yonna meets Daniel, a Danish engineer working in Venezuela. The two embark on a romantic adventure, uncertain what the future will bring. In the third story, Taraji, the least sympathetic of the young women affected by violence, was adopted from South Africa by a Danish couple, Jacob and Liva. When teenage Taraji begins asking questions about her birth parents, she misinterprets Liva’s reticence as insecurity rather than protective instinct; Liva doesn’t wish Taraji to know that her conception resulted from a violent rape. Despite her loving parents and stable boyfriend, Taraji embarks on self-destructive behavior. While the stories have an optimistic tone, the voyages in all three are painful ones. Saja and Yonna both exhibit great strength of character and highly developed principles; Taraji shows willfulness and selfishness. Saja’s story is perhaps the most affecting as the reader witnesses the disbelief of Danish authorities that she could be an educated, intelligent young woman; they see only a destitute woman who must be lying about her past. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the stories is that all three are set in the recent past—1990s through the present—a time that, we’d like to think, should be more enlightened.
Provocative, disturbing group of novellas that humanize international problems of violence and the plight of refugees.