The Glass Wall is about a fictional Western Country who build a massive mirror wall to protect them from immigrants and create a desert outside the wall. A lone African survives when his boat capsizes and he manages to walk for several days in the desert before he arrives at the glass wall. The author himself must have experienced the physical and mental suffering that he describes.
The people inside the wall cannot see out to the desert, because they only see themselves in the mirror, but any immigrant outside, trying to get in, can see them and how their daily lives proceed. It is rather mysterious how the climate has been manipulated to create desert outside the glass wall while inside it is more livable.
The wall is impossible to breach – either by digging down below it or trying to get over the top, as it is massive. The only way to get in is to register with a guard in a hut beside the glass wall. There is a small window with holes in, so that he can speak to the guard. The guard has an automatic translation system, so they can understand each other. The guard tells him that he should tell the story of why he wanted to leave his country and become an asylum seeker.
Once the guard has registered him as an asylum seeker, a helicopter drops food and a tent and other useful things. Thus, he is able to survive until the next helicopter drop of food and other essentials. Unfortunately, another wanderer in the desert steals his food, so he is back to suffering again – although the wanderer does tell him some useful and practical things, for example how to have a sand bath.
The first story he tells is about his father and grandmother. Unfortunately, this fails to let him in. The book is really two stories woven together from his past growing up in his home territory and the story of his life in the desert trying to get through the glass wall. He tries another story about how he was put in prison in his home country just because he was in the wrong place at the time. It took him a long time before he could tell his story against his own country.
Finally, he tells the story of how he became a rebel and hid in the mountains with other young people trying to topple the regime. He left when the group became armed guerrillas. There is a twist at the end of the book and we realise that the old guard had been seriously trying to help him to get in behind the glass wall.
Compulsory reading for the Home Secretary
Although this is fiction, it is a book that Suella Braverman ought to read. It was recommended to me when I was travelling in Estonia and Latvia and so I thought it was about those countries. At the time, I was just digesting how much feeling the local people have against the Russians and the war in Ukraine. Although there are plenty of Russians living in the Baltic states, the messages hung outside the Russian Embassy in Tallinn gave vent to their feelings about the war.
The author of this novel is an Iraqi Kurdish refugee, who lived in the Netherlands for many years and now lives in London – see https://www.afsana-press.com/goran-baba-ali.