The Village Indian is written by Abbas Khider. I had heard about the author while researching for my German Diverse Books project. He was a refugee and is living in Berlin at the moment. While planning my TBR for Asian Lit Bingo, I decided to read one of his books for the Asian Refugee MC square. I read this book in German. Unlike the other books that I’ve read for this project, this book is available in German, Arabic and English.
A manuscript is found on the train and read by one of the travellers. It entails eight short stories, each describing the journey of the same refugee from Iraq to Germany in a different way.
This book is #ownvoices.
The writing style was intriguing. I was confused when the second short story started because I wasn’t sure if it was detailing the journey of a new refugee or the same one. However, I realised that it was the same refugee that was telling his story in eight different ways. At the beginning, he explains that he doesn’t always know when something happened or exactly what happened, and this was illustrated in the different focusses of each story. It was interesting to see that his memories were mixed up and he couldn’t remember exactly how he came from Iraq to Germany. It showed how much stress and trauma a refugee has to deal with. The different stories also portrayed the different experiences that refugees have had in real life, and that I, as a non-refugee, hardly ever think about.
The ending was amazing and certainly not what I expected. I liked how it mirrored the beginning of the book and that we find out the identity of the traveller reading the manuscript.
The writer character in one the stories is always only inspired to write after being inspired by the breasts or bottom of a beautiful woman. It was just really boring for me to read about this, however I do know that some people are inspired by this.
There was one parts that I disliked about this book. The first is that the main character’s father tells him that his mother is a “Zigeunerin”. Zigeuner is a racial slur and means the same as gypsy. And the main character kept using this word while talking about his ethnicity (he himself is unsure as to who his mother is) and about other Sinti and Roma. If you’re so interested in your ethnicity, wouldn’t you realise upon educating yourself that the word you are using to describe that part of your family is a slur? He also refers to Native Americans as Indians. Another phrase I was unsure about is that when he referred to a group of prositutes as “women” with quotation marks, which didn’t make it clear if he was referring to transgender women, which would mean he was erasing their gender, or to men.
The Village Indian is a story that uses its writing style to convey the confusion, difficulties and stress of refugees. It has an intriguing concept and I liked the focus of the different stories, as it led to a well-rounded picture of the situations of various refugees, even though the stories all focus on the same refugee.
This review is part of the German Diverse Books project (#DeutscheDiversityBücher). The book is available in German, Arabic and English.
Trigger warning: attempted suicide.
Have you read The Village Indian?