my challenges

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bullets on the Water

Bullets on the Water, by Ivaylo Grouev.

I have discovered that it is almost impossible in the United States to find a book about Moldova, unless you want to read a tourist guidebook, which really seems like cheating for purposes of the European Reading Contest.  Finally, in desperation, I resorted to this book, a series of first-person narratives from recent (at the time the book was compiled) immigrants to Canada, one of whom is from Moldova.

It should be noted up front that this book was compiled in the early to mid-nineties, and is therefore twenty years old.  Surprisingly, perhaps, it seems every bit as relevant today as it was when it was first published.  The range of countries represented is the same range that are found in immigrants today, for the most part.

There were some immediate similarities between all of the different narratives that I found very interesting.  In the first place, virtually all of the immigrants came originally from well-to-do families, with a few notable exceptions.  That suggests that those able to immigrate in today's world are for the most part those that have money to support their leap from known to unknown.  More interesting still, virtually all of the immigrants experienced deep unhappiness, loneliness, and a sense of being misunderstood, stereotyped, ignored in their new home.  Only a few expressed optimism.  It was eye-opening, as initially I expected most of the new Canadian citizens to be happy and somewhat carefree, being at last out of the terrible environments that had caused them to flee their homelands for a new life.  Clearly this is not the case, and after consideration this actually makes good sense.  After all, often their education, work history, and life experiences don't directly translate to what is needed to succeed in Canada or the USA, and the frequent language barrier makes isolation probable rather than possible.

Overall I enjoyed this book and found it extremely informative in an increasingly shrinking world.  I would recommend it heartily.  4 out of 5.

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