Title: In the Sea There are Crocodiles: Based on the True Story of Enaiatollah Akbari
Author: Fabio Geda
Publication Date: August 9, 2011
Hardcover: 224 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
When ten-year-old Enaiatollah Akbari’s small village in Afghanistan falls prey to Taliban rule in early 2000, his mother shepherds the boy across the border into Pakistan but has to leave him there all alone to fend for himself. Thus begins Enaiat’s remarkable and often punishing five-year ordeal, which takes him through Iran, Turkey, and Greece before he seeks political asylum in Italy at the age of fifteen.
Along the way, Enaiat endures the crippling physical and emotional agony of dangerous border crossings, trekking across bitterly cold mountain pathways for days on end or being stuffed into the false bottom of a truck. But not everyone is as resourceful, resilient, or lucky as Enaiat, and there are many heart-wrenching casualties along the way.
Based on Enaiat’s close collaboration with Italian novelist Fabio Geda and expertly rendered in English by an award- winning translator, this novel reconstructs the young boy’s memories, perfectly preserving the childlike perspective and rhythms of an intimate oral history.
Told with humor and humanity, In the Sea There Are Crocodiles brilliantly captures Enaiat’s moving and engaging voice and lends urgency to an epic story of hope and survival.
In the Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda captures the memories of events of young Enaiatollah Akbari, as he experienced them from the time he left his life in Afghanistan with his mother until he reached Italy, alone and in search of political asylum. Knowing only of life under the Taliban, young Enaiat is taken to Pakistan by his mother, who subsequently leaves him there, a 10-year-old who must learn survival with only his mother’s guiding principles: do not use drugs or weapons, and do not steal. Considered fiction because Geda has taken Enaiat’s words and crafted them into this story, the events and what was experienced by Enaiat are his true accounts. Geda has written this novel with utmost respect for what was endured, the hardships, the atrocities, and the triumphs of Enaiat, and this respect is apparent in Geda’s style which is true to the mind of a young boy. This story is told in as close to the direct voice of Enaiat as was possible, a poignant reminder of what human’s seek in life: a place that is safe and peaceful, a family that is nurturing and loving. Readers will cry for this boy who seeks no pity from his plights, and then cheer as his perseverance brings him to a triumphant conclusion. I highly recommend Geda’s In the Sea There Are Crocodiles to all readers for it is a gem.
Fabio Geda is an Italian novelist who writes for several Italian magazines and newspapers. This is his first book to be translated into English.
Howard Curtis is a London-based translator of Italian and French texts, for which he has won numerous awards.
I received a complimentary arc of In the Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabio Geda from Doubleday to review. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned novel.