Reinhard Kleist’s latest centres on Samia Yusuf Omar, a young girl from Mogadishu who competed in the 2008 Olympic Games and was working, against tremendous odds, to compete in the Olympics in 2012 and who was one of the many who attempted to leave her birthplace looking for a better future. A swift and simple Google search of her name will tell you how that worked out for her and it takes nothing away from the power of the book to know how things work out (quite the opposite in fact).
We see Samia travel first in the company of her aunt and then later alone, beset on all sides, as those around her are, by corruption and vice and criminality, and doing her utmost to achieve her aims, in spite of all of the setbacks. In many ways its a heroic tale, as much as it is a tragic tale. Just as Kleist sought to bring a little known tale into the light in his last book, The Boxer, so here he attempts to show us that the throng of migrants that we see on the news each night is constituted of people, a great many people, each of whom have stories and families and dreams and wants and needs. If you were to read this book and be inspired to read more, your next stop should be The New Odyssey by Patrick Kingsley.
Any Cop?: A powerful tale that holds its emotions in check – it’s up to the reader to feel as a result of what we see. Kleist gets better with every book. We can’t wait to see what he does next.