Welcome to Paradise

by Mahi Binebine

The Strait of Gibraltar: immigrant traffickers pit themselves against two sets of coast guards. Traffickers such as Morad who allocates passengers to boatmen and regales prospective clients with dazzling stories of life in the north. The would-be migrants are held together only by their longing to be free. Kacem has escaped from the civil war in Algeria; Nuara, with her newborn child, has lost touch with her husband; Pafadnam and Yarc have survived the brutal journey from Mali; Aziz, the young narrator severed from his family in Morocco. As the moment approaches for them to cross, it becomes clear not only how much they have overcome to get there, but also how much still awaits them. Tense and blackly compassionate, this is a striking tale of countries bled dry of their people, and of impossible media fantasies of Western life.