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Review: Djamila Ibrahim’s story collection Things Are Good Now explores themes of home and belonging

  • Title: Things Are Good Now
  • Author: Djamila Ibrahim
  • Publisher: Astoria
  • Pages: 232
  • Price: $19.95

In the title story of Djamila Ibrahim’s debut collection, siblings return to Ethiopia after a decade living in Toronto. “Things are good now,” Ethiopians tell them – 17 years of brutalities under the Derg regime finally ended. But their voices are wary. A character could say, “Things are good now,” at some point in each of these stories; this moment often relates to a new life in Canada: where Ibrahim’s characters have fled from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia because of poverty, persecution, frustration and fear. So, yes, things are at least better now. But then each story complicates this sentiment: there are new sources of disillusion, grief and displacement. “I realized then that home and belonging would never be clear-cut for me,” one character says. (Ibrahim, who was born in Addis Ababa and moved to Canada in 1990, is a former adviser for Citizenship and Immigration Canada). Things Are Good Now makes clear that asylum isn’t the same as resolution. As Canada expects only increased numbers of asylum seekers in 2018, this is essential fiction for right now.

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