Thing 3- Reading- On the Eight Fold Path

My friend Rudy calls it ‘the eight fold path’ .  I have a list of eight things I try to do everyday here in Portugal to develop as a writer.  I already wrote about Thing 1  and Thing 2 on my path. This post is about Thing 3.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all other: read a lot and write a lot.” – Stephen King

That’s my justification for Thing 3…….. not that I need one.  I LOVE to read and don’t just do so because I know as Stephen King says it will make me a better writer. I have read quite a few books already during our time in Portugal but have now started what has become something of a ritual for me on our winter holidays…………trying to get through all the Canada Reads nominees.  

I just finished my first book Boat People by Sharon Bala.  I have to say I loved this book so much I am almost ready to declare it the winner before reading any of the others.  It is a fictional story but based on events in 2009 and 2010 when ship loads of Sri Lankin Tamils fleeing civil war in their country arrived in Vancouver.  Were they legitimate refugees or were some of them members of the terrorist Tamil Tigers?  Hundreds of the Sri Lankin refugees were detained until hearings could determine whether or not they would be of danger to Canadian citizens. 

The story of Boat People is told through the eyes of three characters.  Mahindan is a man with a six year old son who is a refugee suspected of Tamil Tiger ties.  Mahindan’s  young lawyer Priya is a second generation Sri Lankan- Canadian. Grace is the government appointed adjucator who hears and will decide Mahindan’s case.  Grace is Japanese Canadian and her parents and grandparents were put in a detention camp during World War II.  

Sharon Bala’s riveting story makes us realize just how complicated and subjective and messy the process of admitting refugees to Canada can be. Do circumstances beyond their control often force potential immigrants to cooperate with terrorist demands in their home countries? Are there enough experienced lawyers to defend refugees claiming citizenship?  Are adjucators politically motivated because of who appointed them? These are just a few of the questions the book poses. 

 Even though my husband and I, and other members of our family, have been very involved in bringing refugees to Canada and supporting them, I still learned a great many new things about the Canadian immigration process from this book. At the same time I was also totally engaged with the story. 
From a writers’ perspective Sharon Bala’s book taught me………….
1) The importance of detailed historical research 
2) The benefits of telling a story from more than one character’s perspective
3) The rewards  of writing about something related to your own background- Sharon Bala is a Sri-Lankian Canadian writer from Newfoundland
4) The value of keeping your readers in suspense
 Other posts………..

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