These Are The Names – Tommy Weiringa

9781925106473“A border town on the steppe. A small group of emaciated and feral refugees appears out of nowhere, spreading fear and panic in the town. When police commissioner Pontus Beg orders their arrest, evidence of a murder is found in their luggage. As he begins to unravel the history of their hellish journey, it becomes increasingly intertwined with the search for his own origins that he has embarked upon. Now he becomes the group’s inquisitor … and, finally, something like their saviour.”

I heard Weiringa speak at Sydney Writer’s Festival and when I found out that he got the idea for the novel from an obscure news story about people-traffickers fabricating border crossings, I wanted to know more. This book is reasonably short and the language, while poetic and vivid, reads easily. I couldn’t tear myself away from Weiringa’s synchronised storylines, oscillating between the horrific and the mundane, the humorous and the wise. His use of symbolism is striking without feeling forced and as the stories converge the significance of such details becomes increasingly fascinating. It is a compassionate story about migration and survival, identity and self-discovery, religion, what it is to be human and the ultimate question of redemption.

Anything I find that absorbing gets5stars

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