ⓘ In the Sea There are Crocodiles is a 2010 novel and the third book by Fabio Geda. It is loosely based on the life of Afghan refugee Enaiatollah Akbari and is ta ..


ⓘ In the Sea There are Crocodiles

In the Sea There are Crocodiles is a 2010 novel and the third book by Fabio Geda. It is loosely based on the life of Afghan refugee Enaiatollah Akbari and is taken from a series of interviews Geda conducted with Akbari. The novel follows Akbari from his birth in Afghanistan to his arrival in Italy.

The books release in the United States and Great Britain marks it as the first of Gedas works to be translated into English. Amnesty International UK has also recommended the book as a way to teach human rights to children.


1. Plot

At the age of ten, Enaiatollah travels with his mother from Pakistan to Quetta, where she makes him promise not to steal, not to take drugs, and not to use weapons. Then, before leaving him, she gives him one last kiss on the forehead.

When Enaiatollah wakes up in the morning and searches for his mother, not finding her, he asks the manager of the dormitory for news and he replied that she has returned home. The little boy is disappointed. He has to find a job and manages to convince the manager, Kaka Rahim, to hire him. After so many days of working, tiring and in difficult conditions, he meets a gentleman who notices his skills and intelligence and proposes that he work for him. Enaiatollah has to buy goods and then sell them in the city. The next day he goes to work on the streets of Pakistan. He continues until he meets a group of kids in his same condition. They want to part for Iran and with a heart full of hope, Enaiatollah joins them. Among them, there was also Sufi. After a week of research, they are hired as bricklayers on a construction site where they build houses for men. Later, once the police control arrives, the boys risk being sent back to Afghanistan. Now his friend Sufi, taken by the fear of the policemen, decides to go to Iran and Enaiatollah after a few days, joins him, exhausted. There they find work as bricklayers; they pay well at the construction site and Friday, which was their only free day, like all the other children, they go to play.

Enaiatollah knows another group of kids who propose to go to Turkey. He accepts, but Sufi decides to stay in Iran. They greet each other in the hope they will be able to meet again. The boys walk through the mountains for about a month and live in the cold with the fear of wolves. In order not to be discovered by the police, they hide for three days traveling in the body of a truck with a double bottom around fifty centimeters high which takes them to Turkey. They get off the truck, their legs, back, and bones hurt because they were in an incorrect position. The boy claims to have urinated blood for several weeks and that the pain was atrocious. In Turkey they live under a bridge, and the search for a job is vain, so Enaiatollah and his friends, who convinced him to pay for the trip because he knew a little English, left at night with an inflatable boat supplied by a human trafficker.

During the trip to Athens, Enaiatollah meets an old friend from Quetta, that told him he was going to live in a park in Athens, near a church that gave food and other needs in the evenings, and Enaiatollah accepts to go with him.

A few days later he decided to go to Corinth, to see if there was any passage to a European country that satisfied him. One day he managed to leave on a boat that was headed to Venice. From Venice, he left for Rome where he finds a friend of his, that he discovered lived in Turin. Enaiatollah remained in Turin where he started studying and where he lived with a family friend of a friend, who offered to take him into custody.

At the end of the story, Enaiatollah manages to contact his mother, incredibly, and confirms to be safe and sound. He finishes narrating this adventure at the age of 21 years old.


2. Publication history

In the Sea There are Crocodiles was first published in Italy on April 22, 2010 through Milan, Baldini & Castoldi. An English language translation was released the following year through Doubleday, translated by Howard Curtis. This marked the first time that one of Gedas books had been published in English. It was released alongside an e-book edition and an audiobook adaptation narrated by Mir Waiss Najibi, issued through Books on Tape.


3. Reception

In the Sea There are Crocodiles has received reviews from the Independent and the Guardian, the latter of which stated that it was a "frank, revealing and clear-eyed testament of the experiences faced by a young asylum-seeker in the contemporary world". Joseph Peschel of the Boston Globe had both praise and criticism for the book, stating that it was "an intriguing story, but absent from it is any deep, convincing sense of how Enaiat feels about the events that befall him."

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