This post was originally going to be about January’s reads, but because of the insane hours of the audit busy season, I’ve only managed to finish one book…
Dmitri Nasrallah is an author from Montreal Quebec, Canada. I met him at, of all things, an academic event. I was taking a Legal Studies elective at university which was cross-listed with an English course, and my professor ran a reading series, where the school brought in established authors to talk about their books and give writing advice to students. We got extra credit in her course for attending the events, so you can bet that I was at every single one of them.
I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned it on this blog now, but growing up I had always dreamed about becoming a professional writer. As I grew up though, I left that dream by the wayside in favour of less creative subjects (ahem accounting). That’s why it was so interesting to hear Nasrallah’s story. He wrote his first short story when he was 20 while taking a creative writing class. The creative writing class was his elective while he pursued a business degree. The similarity between his past and my present intrigued me, so much so that at the end of his reading I bought a copy of the only one of his books that was still in stock –
Niko, by Dmitri Nasrallah
Here’s a book trailer in French (the book has been published in both English and French):
Nasrallah signed the book for me, and with his blessing I started Niko’s journey.
Niko is a young boy who, with his father, leaves war-torn Lebanon in search for a brighter future. Niko has not yet started school at the beginning of the book, and by the end he is an adult. The story of immigration resonated with me and because I moved to Canada around the same time he did and was the same age as what he ended off at when I finished the book, I kept drawing parallels between my life and his. On the other hand, Niko’s history was a lot more coloured with violence and hardship than my own, so it was a little shocking to read about a man getting decapitated in Lebanon, then flip the page and be at a grocery store in Canada.
Favourite quote (this contains minor spoilers so you may want to stop here):
“They say you live in Canada. Tell me, how is your life now?”
“To be honest, it’s not so good.”
“You know,” Baba says, “when I sent you there, I thought you’d forget all about me and become a doctor. I thought you’d have everything waiting for you there, opportunities at your feet. You were supposed to go on and do great things.”
“Life is different there,” Niko shrugs. “There are too many rules, and no one is happy, but we all have a lot of money to live well and we all complain. I don’t know how to explain it, but even though there was no danger to our lives, we still found ways to make mistakes.”
“I’m disappointed to hear that.”