The Walking

Laleh Khadivi

The Walking

Iran. 1979. The mullahs have come to power and they want everyone to know. Two young Kurdish brothers, Saladin and Ali, are forced to swear their loyalty to the new regime by taking part in a massacre. In the traumatic aftermath of the killing they flee. For Saladin, the younger, the decision to travel west is exciting; this is the direction of Hollywood, Los Angeles, America. But his euphoria is not enough for the reluctant Ali, who belongs, heart and soul, to the mountain town of his birth. As they cross the treacherous Zagros mountains by foot to Istanbul, to the Azores by freighter and finally as smuggled cargo aboard a plane to Los Angeles, Saladin realises that his dream of a better future can only be fulfilled alone. And as he walks along the hot, shimmering beaches of the promised land, unbearably dislocated, Saladin must define who he will become - and who he's always been. Haunting and beautifully-written, The Walking is a story of exodus; of those many people torn between the lure of home and the lure of hope. 3.9 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
The Walking

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Paperback
Pages 272
RRP
Date of Publication January 2013
ISBN 978-1408814840
Publisher Bloomsbury Circus
 

Iran. 1979. The mullahs have come to power and they want everyone to know. Two young Kurdish brothers, Saladin and Ali, are forced to swear their loyalty to the new regime by taking part in a massacre. In the traumatic aftermath of the killing they flee. For Saladin, the younger, the decision to travel west is exciting; this is the direction of Hollywood, Los Angeles, America. But his euphoria is not enough for the reluctant Ali, who belongs, heart and soul, to the mountain town of his birth. As they cross the treacherous Zagros mountains by foot to Istanbul, to the Azores by freighter and finally as smuggled cargo aboard a plane to Los Angeles, Saladin realises that his dream of a better future can only be fulfilled alone. And as he walks along the hot, shimmering beaches of the promised land, unbearably dislocated, Saladin must define who he will become - and who he's always been. Haunting and beautifully-written, The Walking is a story of exodus; of those many people torn between the lure of home and the lure of hope.

Reviews

The Financial Times

David Evans

She is at her best when considering those who fled, their mixed feelings of relief at having escaped and concern for those they left behind: “What follows us most ardently, in dogged pursuit like a neglected neighbour or a new ghost, is news of home.”

29/03/2013

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The New York Times

Mike Peed

A successful novel needn’t set out to teach us something — to bend us morally — but the precision of Khadivi’s sentences, each with a gentle rhythm and a sure-footed intelligence, engenders deep sympathy for the miseries experienced by forced migrants. And yet for all the compassion Khadivi elicits, Saladin himself fails to show empathy.

31/03/2013

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Times Literary Supplement

Nabeelah Jaffer

The story of the brothers is interspersed with a chorus of anonymous Iranians, whose fears and fantasies echo the hollow dreams and illusions in which Khadivi swaddles her main characters. But the events of the revolution and subsequent hostage crisis provide only occasional political punctuation in a narrative more preoccupied with the same persistent search for love and belonging that drives its prequel, The Age of Orphans.

08/03/2013

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The Independent

Leyla Sanai

Khadivi is capable of lyricism and poetry, whether conjuring up nature ("the lacy chirp of birds"), elegiac feelings ("memories grow into fictions, stories from a past for which we will soon have no proof"); or sensations associated with travel ("Away from dawn in the direction of night as if the world were a chronometer"). The book is overlong, though, and slow: it's not necessary to have a football game described, nor a description of how blindfolds on American hostages are "the exact same" as those Saladin saw in Iran, followed by an explanation of the purpose of blindfolds.

18/01/2013

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