Iraqi Kurdish writer Goran Baba Ali draws on his own experiences for new novel: A captivating tale of a teenage refugee who must relive the pain of his past to enter the land waiting behind a glass wall
A former refugee-turned-author has released a timely, powerful and unforgettable debut English novel about the miraculous journey of a teenage asylum seeker.
A soul-stirring work carrying great resonance following the recent tragic migrant crossing deaths in the English Channel, The Glass Wall tells the tale of a young boy who treks through an unforgiving desert in search of a safe new land – only to meet a colossal glass wall guarded by an old man.
A story of struggle and persecution but abundant in hope, The Glass Wall is a clear-eyed, emotionally-honest account of displaced people – illustrating the true hardship that refugees experience.
The book was written by freelance writer and journalist Goran Baba Ali who himself spent years as a refugee in Amsterdam.
The author stated: “I have refugee roots, and I understand what it feels like to put yourself in danger to try and obtain safety in another country.
“We are humans, we can imagine how the hardship is, but I wanted people to really know how it feels: The desperation, waiting for asylum procedures, taking the journey with all these obstacles to get there.
“I want to show why these people don’t stop in their search for safety, and why they always try to find a hole in the wall a country might build.”
Baba Ali left Iraqi Kurdistan for the Netherlands in the 1990s, spending 15 years in the country before moving to London and pursuing an MA in Creative Writing. He now has British nationality.
After working on The Glass Wall for four years, Baba Ali completed the novel during the COVID lockdown and released it via his own publishing house: Afsana Press.
Baba Ali said: “I have always been writing – ever since I was a child. I grew up in Iraqi Kurdistan and there were not many children’s books around that time, so I wrote some myself. I later started writing short stories and had my first story published in Kurdish aged 20.
“Writing my own book and launching my own publishing house has always been a dream, so it has been wonderful to finish the book.
“I finished it during lockdown – where the sense of being lonely, desperate and trapped really helped me to live with my protagonist.
“It got me in the headspace of thinking: Will the world ever open to you?”
Across 352 riveting pages, The Glass Wall depicts a teenage refugee being forced to reconcile with his forgotten past in an attempt to be granted asylum – inviting questions around the notion of story, history and identity.
The book is out now and available online from a variety of shops, including Hive and Waterstones. (ISBN: 9781739982409).
It can also be purchased online from Wordery and Afsana Press.
To learn more about one of the most impactful and relevant novels of 2021, head over to the Afsana Press website.