The Boat People

The Boat People

Book - 2018
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"In the tradition of Lawrence Hill's The Illegal, Chris Cleave's Little Bee, and Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, and inspired by a real incident, this high-stakes and increasingly timely novel powerfully evokes what it means to leave behind everything you have ever known to seek out a better life in a strange land. When the rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and 500 fellow refugees from Sri Lanka's bloody civil war reaches the shores of British Columbia, the young father believes the struggles that he and his six-year-old son have long faced are finally over. But their journey has only just begun. The group is thrown into a detention processing centre, with government officials and news headlines speculating that among "the boat people" are members of a separtist militant organization responsible for countless suicide attacks--and that these insurgents now pose a threat to Canada's national security. As the refugees are subjected to heavy interrogation, Mahindan fears that a desperate act taken in Sri Lanka to fund their escape may now jeopardize his and his son's chance for asylum. Told through the alternating perspectives of Mahindan; his lawyer, Priya, a second-generation Sri Lankan-Canadian who reluctantly represents the refugees; and Grace, a third-generation Japanese-Canadian adjudicator who must decide Mahindan's fate as evidence mounts against him, The Boat People is a spellbinding and timely novel that provokes a deeply compassionate lens through which to view the current refugee crisis. Set in Vancouver, with riveting scenes in civil war-torn Sri Lanka, the novel asks difficult but necessary questions that will continue to be relevant as the world-wide crisis remains a reality for years to come."
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, [2018]
ISBN: 9780771024290
Branch Call Number: BALA
Characteristics: 401 pages ; 21 cm

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Appearing at Strathcona County Library on Oct. 15 at 7 pm

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SCL_Heather Jul 11, 2018

Definitely one of my favourite reads of 2018. Bala does wonderful job of showing us all the nuance and shades of grey in a complex subject area. For me it was a poignant reminder that no matter who we are and where we come from,at the end of the day we are all just people trying to create the be... Read More »

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SCL_Angela Jul 08, 2018

The Boat People is a nuanced exploration of Canada’s refugee system, as told from the perspectives of three characters. Mahindan arrives with his young son on a rickety boat with 500 of other refugees fleeing the Sri Lankan civil war only to be separated and detained until their case is decided. ... Read More »


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SCL_Heather Jul 11, 2018

Definitely one of my favourite reads of 2018. Bala does wonderful job of showing us all the nuance and shades of grey in a complex subject area. For me it was a poignant reminder that no matter who we are and where we come from,at the end of the day we are all just people trying to create the best lives possible for ourselves and our families.

SCL_Angela Jul 08, 2018

The Boat People is a nuanced exploration of Canada’s refugee system, as told from the perspectives of three characters. Mahindan arrives with his young son on a rickety boat with 500 of other refugees fleeing the Sri Lankan civil war only to be separated and detained until their case is decided. Priya, a young articling lawyer, resents being pulled from her plum corporate law assignment to work on the pro bono refugee case because of her Sri Lankan heritage. Grace, the Japanese-Canadian adjudicator who will decide Mahindan’s fate, has her own views stemming from her grandparents’ internment during WWII. Each of these three are forced to face the complexities of the situation and their own assumptions as suspicion swirls around Mahindan, who fears the desperate actions he took to survive will now jeopardize his and his son’s chances for asylum. Bala’s stunning debut, which was featured on Canada Reads 2018, is an unforgettable and necessary story for our times.

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