Book: The Lost Baggage of Silvia Guzmán by Mike Robbinscategories: Book, Thriller, Literary Fiction, Latin America, England, Satire, Asylum, Exile, Drugs, Refugees, South America, London, Political Fiction
Mike Robbinsabout this book: Silvia Guzmán's country falls apart after a violent, drug-fuelled coup. With her father dead and her family in hiding, she flees to London. Picked up by the police, she is dumped for weeks in a hostel. Then she rescued by cold intellectuals who congratulate themselves on their compassion. Meanwhile, she must navigate a bureaucracy that may let her stay, or send her back into danger. She finds she is a nuisance to one side and a cause to the other, with no dreams, family or opinions of her own. Until she meets another, earlier, refugee; and then, with his help, she has a surprise for everyone.
The Lost Baggage of Silvia Guzmán is a story of flight, loss and the pain of exile. There is a current of understated violence, but also of black humor. Author Mike Robbins also uses Silvia's journey to hold up a mirror to his own society, and the result is perceptive, caustic and sometimes very funny.
From reader reviews of The Lost Baggage of Silvia Guzmán:
• "This is a charming and insightful book, of considerable relevance to the present day furore that is permeating British society and media in relation to asylum seekers and immigrants, and I can recommend it very highly."
• "I really enjoyed this book and found the writing generally unsensational but vivid and gripping from the beginning. Mike Robbins ...does not shy away from describing graphic and unpleasant incidents, but does it in a fashion that slowly pulls in the reader until they find themselves suddenly hooked and wanting to know more."
• "The reality is that refugees are refugees for a reason – and these reasons frequently have their origin in the habits and behaviours of those of us in "developed" countries. Robbins doesn't hesitate to point this out."
• "I am reminded of the writing of Graham Greene when I think of this narrative and I hope that Mr Robbins continues to put his undoubted past experiences to good effect in future similar works of fiction."
• "There is much to enjoy here - the insightful descriptions of the fascinating mass of contradictions and beauty that is S America; the emptiness of London's fashionable moneyed liberalism; the humour of the fairly mediocre and formulaic "sex and shopping" novel within the novel; the parallel world lived in by Britain's refugees - be they from overseas or from failed families around our country."
• "This is a thought-provoking tale where the author does not shy away from shocking scenes and sensitive themes. How he portrays them though is by cleverly allowing the reader to reach their own conclusions. I also particularly enjoyed the vivid atmospheres that the author creates with his expansive use of colours, light and sounds. ...I wasn't expecting to feel so emotional at the end. I admit to having a tear in my eye. For Silvia."
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