October 25, 2006

The Unnumbered

4 out of 5 stars

I initially grabbed this book as I’m about to start working with asylum seekers. It’s also the first novel exploring the lives of illegal immigrants that I’ve found. Bought for 80p at a second hand booksale, it was a considerable bargain!

Nio is a second generation Greek immigrant, 23 years old, unemployed and living in a self-constructed shack made from old doors, windows and other bits and pieces in a rarely visited corner of St. Pancras’ Cemetery. Mila is a 15 year old illegal Romanian immigrant, living with her family in a troop of caravans just off the North Circular. Central to the novel is Nio and Mila’s complex struggle to realise their love and build a life together while struggling with their families and the authorities.

However, this book is much more than a love story. North cleverly weaves the lives of Mila and Nio and their families, with that of a young university student, Anjali, who has dropped out of her course and is living rough in the city. The characters lives are linked at many levels, some which they are unaware of, but most significant is the all-pervading presence of the sinister Lucas Tooth, who influences all of their fates.

This book completely drew me in; the characters are compelling and I found myself willing them to find a happy ending. North manages to combine raising awareness of many of the very real and practical issues facing illegal immigrants and other ‘unnumbered’ people, with a captivating, dramatic, and frequently moving narrative.

It was also refreshing to read about London from a completely different perspective; the author explores alternative sides to places that many of us are familiar with.

February 25, 2005

The mystery of why I never finish an essay before the absolute deadline…

OH MY GOD how is it possible that it's already the end of week 8?! EIGHT, that means two weeks off ten and the scariness that is an Easter holiday filled with assessed essays and the – if I don't think about it at all it means it's either not there or will write itself – enigma that is the dissertation. Of course, it will all get done in the end, it usually does, even if it does come down to a couple of sleepless nights with a packet of pro-plus and ridiculous amount of cups of tea. Not entirely sure that my strategy – although I'm sure I'm not alone in this – of putting things off as long as possible until I absolutely have to do them, by which time they've been hyped up and dreaded for so long that they seem an impossible task, is the most effective, but I've tried to work ahead of deadlines before and I just end up wasting my time planning and making colourful timetables that I NEVER EVER stick to!

No matter how little there has been to do for the rest of the week (year?!), it is astonishing how many 'important' tasks reveal themselves when you've decided that now would be a good time to start working. Bedroom tidying, washing up, phoning the parents… these all become extremely necessary, much more important than the piece of work that will form 25% of the year's mark. Why is it that now, when I'm in the middle of writing what should be a quite straightforward 2000 word essay (due this afternoon) do I think its a better use of my time to investigate this blog thing that's been here all year, that I don't really understand the purpose of and yet I can't stop waffling to… on that note I think I should go finish the essay. Or find some washing up to do…

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  • you totally understand the purpose of a blog. well done. on a more serious niote: good luck with you… by on this entry

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