“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.”


This is the story of a boat of refugees who have fled Sri Lanka for what they hope will be freedom in Canada.

In Sri Lanka, these people were caught between the forces of their own Government and the rebellion forces, called Tigers, who are caught in the madness of a civil war. Some of these people were forced to do things for the rebels or they would be killed.

The main character is a widower named Mahindan and his young son Sellian. The story is told from 3 different perspectives, that of Mahindan, one of his lawyers named Priya and Grace who is of Japanese descent and in her past her family was detained during WW2 in camps in Canada. She is a Judge.

When the boat is stopped by the Canadian Coast Guard, all of the refugees are taken into custody until it can be determined if they are terrorists and whether they will be deported or allowed entry into the country. The story will go back to what happened in Sri Lanka, will go through the investigation of some of the refugees by evidence found on their boat that some may be not who they say they are, and the sad problem of families being separated until their hearings.

Mahindan and his son will be among those separated and the toll it takes on both is told in vivid detail. This is a sad story, and it confronts the fears that many of us have when refugees seek entry into our country, as to who they really are. The fear of terrorism is always present.

A very timely book, and a very good effort.



Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 15th February 2018

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Richard Franco