Erpenbeck's moments of touching brilliance are many, and worth the challenge of Go Went Gone's slow pace.
The Refugees absorbed me into the every day magic of its short stories, from the first unconventional tale of young man’s resolution with the past, to the story of an elderly man losing his mind and mistaking his wife for an ex-lover. Nguyen writes with a delightful subtlety, weaving the character’s refugee experiences into human tales that are about more than their pasts, yet intimately intwined with them.
These moving and immersive stories are post-migration filled with characters who are flawed, complex and warm. There’s this interesting play-off between how their refugee experience defines them in some ways, but not in others. I don’t know if that was the author’s intention, but I liked it because it showed the characters as people outside of the refugee status ‘grouping’ as well as the intense realities of their pasts.
Being short stories, they’re great for bed time reading, or the book as a whole would be a great holiday reading.
These stories are as delicate and resilient as shells washed up on a beach, each with an inner sound all their own that transported me to the place I always hope a good read will to take me. Made me a fan. I look forward to reading other works now by Nguyen.