Equatorial Guinea / 2017
When And Other Stories sent me this book, I was thrilled for two reasons: 1. The author, Laurel, is the first writer I've read from Equatorial Guinea. 2. It explores the ongoing migrant crisis that sees desperate African men and women risking their lives to gain asylum in Europe. As a history-lover, this phenomenon—and its grotesque irony—intrigues me. There are so many levels to the crisis. Why won't Europe let them in? What are they running from? Why are Libyan smugglers packing hundreds of people into flimsy boats? I think in trying to answer all of these structural questions—the hows and the whys—we can forget to consider the actual, lived experiences of these people. The Gurugu Pledge does just that. It is set on a mountain that overlooks Spain. The migrants, all from various countries, convene, try to make a living, and try to pass the time as they await uncertain futures. Will they get into Spain? How much longer can they stay on the mountain? There isn't much talk of the past, or the future. Laurel keeps them in the present, showing us what life in the in-between is really like and adding a new dimension of insight and humanity to those horrifying facts, figures, and death tolls seen on the news. This book was eye-opening and even though it's fiction, it is an important testament to the ways these people are failed by governments and history. I'd recommend you check this one out when it's released on August 24th.