Today, I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for Paul Alkrazraji’s novel The Migrant (Instant Apostle, February 2019). It is a thriller set against the background of the European Migrant Crisis. Paul worked as a freelance journalist in the UK from the mid-nineties. He is the author of three other books including Christ and the Kalashnikov, a biography of missionaries Ian and Caralee Loring, published by Harper Collins in 2001. Paul has lived and worked with the church in Albania for fifteen years, where his latest novel is set.
The Migrant is a compelling read that takes the reader on a road journey from rural Albania to Athens, Greece and back again. A British man, Jude Kilburn, is the pastor of a small church in Albania, who goes in search of a young man from his community to bring him back home. Alban has run away from home in search of an apparently better life for himself in Greece but discovers unscrupulous people along the way, who are worse than the life he left behind.
The Migrant manages to be both a pacey adventure story filled with the machinations of right-wing fascists, traffickers and migrants of various kinds, and a homage to the people and land of Albania. At times I was bowled over by the beauty and originality of Alkazraji’s turns of phrase or similes, such as: “the stars of the Plough rising up like a sweet spoon to the Maker’s lips.”
His characterization was superb, from the hard-bitten yet redeemed Mehmed with his gangster background through to Jude’s wife, Alex, with her love of Jane Eyre and her spiritual sensitivity. Every character went on their own personal journey of discovery including the right-wing Donis, who we are clearly meant to dislike given his role as antagonist, yet Alkazraij’s skillful depiction of his inner life manages to gain our empathy.
Despite not often reading thrillers, this was one that drew me in with its themes, narrative scope and sheer quality of writing. A highly recommended read.
The Migrant can be purchased from any good bookshop.