THE BOAT PEOPLE

"A burning flare of a novel, at once incendiary and illuminating."
Omar El Akkad, author of American War

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER. On shelves January 9, 2018

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ABOUT THE BOAT PEOPLE

When the rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees reaches the shores of British Columbia, the young father is overcome with relief: he and his six-year-old son can finally put Sri Lanka's bloody civil war behind them and begin new lives. Instead, the group is grown into prison, with government officials and news headlines speculating that hidden among the "boat people" are members of a terrorist militia infamous for suicide attacks. As suspicions swirls and interrogation mounts, Mahindan fears the desperate actions he took to survive and escape Sri Lanka now jeopardize his and his son's chances for asylum. Told through the alternating perspectives of Mahindan; his lawyer Priya, who reluctantly represents the migrants; and Grace, a third generation Japanese-Canadian adjudicator who must decide Mahindan’s fate, The Boat People is a high-stakes novel that offers a deeply compassionate lens through which to view the current refugee crisis. Inspired by real events, with vidid scenes that move between the eerie beauty of northern Sri Lanka and combative refugee hearings in Vancouver, where life and death decisions are made, Sharon Bala's stunning debut is an unforgettable and necessary story for our times.


ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE BOAT PEOPLE

“The Boat People is a burning flare of a novel, at once incendiary and illuminating. With a rare combination of precision, empathy and insight, Sharon Bala has crafted an unflinching examination of what happens when the fundamental human need for safety collides with the cold calculus of bureaucracy. In the best tradition of fearless literature, it shatters our comfortable illusions about who we really are and reveals just how asymmetrical the privilege of belonging can be. This is a brilliant debut – a story that needs to be told, told beautifully.”
—Omar El Akkad, author of American War

“This wise and compassionate novel is an intimate portrait of one of the great humanitarian crises of our time. Its power lies in its breadth, for it examines not just those who come to our country seeking refuge, but also those who determine their fate. As such it implicates us all in the ongoing crisis.”
—Shyam Selvadurai, author of The Hungry Ghosts and Funny Boy

“This earnest debut novel forcefully explores the issues surrounding immigration…deeply moving and nuanced, The Boat People asks what price a country is willing to pay when public safety comes at the cost of human lives.”
—Booklist

The Boat People is a powerful, gripping moral drama told with deep compassion and humanity. Sharon Bala takes us behind the headlines about refugees and asylum seekers straight into the beating hearts of unforgettable human beings. A timely tale and a beautiful, remarkable debut.”
—Lynne Kutsukake, author of The Translation of Love

“The Boat People is a beautifully crafted story with a big heart. This novel has an urgency and relevance that cuts to the bone and will resonate with readers of all stripes. Bala offers no easy answers and no political posturing, but her magnificent storytelling will leave readers wondering about their own convictions, asking themselves, ‘What would I do? What would I have done?'”
—Michel Stone, author of Border Child

"Bala is brisk, bracing and astonishingly prescient... ahead by a century in the cricket score of politically powerful contemporary fiction."
—US Dhuga, Atlantic Books Today