The Mediterranean Wall by Louis-Philippe Dalembert

Translator: Marjolijn De Jager

This book entered my to-read queue when I was looking for serious almost-non-fiction picks. It sat on my virtual shelf for quite a while before I got to it. I have read a few others which were written on this topic, but many of the central figures who were refugees were men. It was an interesting choice by the author to focus on three women from different religions and situations.
I learnt more from this book than from other shorter works because it covered different countries, civil wars and needs for why someone would make this perilous journey. It is a tough book to get through. The situations are obviously drawn from real cases, and it is especially scary given the helplessness that they all find themselves in. The ending was surprising given the tone of the entire book. It did have some interesting angles as well.
It was slow going not only because of the content and its harshness but the amount of information that was required to be processed. Although having three protagonists introduced at varying stages of the narrative added depth, it also felt like it was dragging a little. I liked the back and forth because it gave me breathing time to process what was happening to one person when we went back to the past of another. They ultimately end up on the same boat, literally and figuratively.
I just felt like it could have been shorter. The author’s writing and the translator’s work were good enough to convey the gravity of the situation in a few scenes, but the rest felt repetitive. I would still recommend this over some other stories of people falling in the hands of smugglers because it provides an extensive picture of all the horrors.
It is the kind of book that you sit in silence after and think about everything that we just encountered.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is based on my own reading experience.


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