About this book
Things Are Good Now
Set in East Africa, the Middle East, Canada, and the U.S., Things Are Good Now examines the weight of the migrant experience on the human psyche. In these pages, women, men, and children who’ve crossed continents in search of a better life find themselves struggling with the chaos of displacement and the religious and cultural clashes they face in their new homes. A maid who travelled to the Middle East lured by the prospect of a well-paying job is trapped in the Syrian war. A female ex-freedom fighter immigrates to Canada only to be relegated to cleaning public washrooms and hospital sheets. A disillusioned civil servant struggles to come to grips with his lover’s imminent departure. A young Muslim Canadian woman who’d married her way to California to escape her devout family’s demands realizes she’s made a mistake.
The collection is about remorse and the power of memory, about the hardships of a post-9/11 reality that labels many as suspicious or dangerous because of their names or skin colour alone, but it’s also about hope and friendship and the intricacies of human relationships. Most importantly, it’s about the compromises we make to belong.
From “Heading Somewhere”
Holding the corner post for balance, Sara climbs onto the patio chair. She wraps the bedsheet she’s tied to the ledge like a rope around her arm and slowly climbs over her employers’ second floor balcony and down to the quiet street below. A metre or so before her feet touch the ground, she loses her grip and falls on the asphalt. She gets up quickly, adjusts the duffle bag on her back and looks up towards the house. The lights have not been turned on. She takes a deep breath and searches the dark street for the ride Ahmed, her employers’ gatekeeper had arranged for her. She spots an old van a few metres away. Its rear lights flash twice as agreed upon. She walks towards it as fast as she can without running.
“Get in the back,” the driver says from the half-open window before Sara has a chance to make eye contact.
“Cover yourself with that blanket and keep your head down,” he orders with a rushed voice.
Panic takes over as she slides the van door shut. What if this is a trap? She trusts Ahmed. He didn’t let her out of the compound alone for fear of losing his job but he was nice to her. And he has delivered on the promise of finding her someone who, for a fee, would help her. But this man on the other hand could be taking her to the police station instead of the outskirts of Damascus where she’s supposed to meet someone who will take her to Beirut. She shakes the distressing thought away. There is nothing she can do now but hope for the best.
About the Author
DJAMILA IBRAHIM was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and moved to Canada in 1990. Her stories have been shortlisted for the University of Toronto’s Penguin Random House Canada Student Award for Fiction and Briarpatch Magazine’s creative writing contest. She was formerly a senior advisor for Citizenship and Immigration Canada. She lives in Toronto.
Awards and Praise
PRAISE FOR DJAMILA IBRAHIM AND THINGS ARE GOOD NOW:
A 49th Shelf Book of the Year
“This is essential fiction for right now.” — Globe and Mail
“Poignant and thought-provoking . . . This collection of short stories is a great read that hits close to home.” — Richmond News
“Things Are Good Now is an insightful and imaginative debut; these skillful stories have stayed with me long after I stopped reading. This is a book that is as important as it is engaging.” — Zoe Whittall, author of The Best Kind of People
“Ibrahim writes with intensity and empathy, drawing believably complex characters who are understandably torn between bleak alternatives. Things Are Good Now feels fresh and raw and real. Amid the disheartening racism and sexism are the pull of patriotism, the solidity of traditionalism, and ultimately, mercifully, the power of even small glimpses of optimism.” — Toronto Star
“Things Are Good Now should be included on every to-be-read list. Each story is powerful and important, and each voice, while fictional, is a perfect representation of hard truths. These voices should be heard.” — This Magazine
“Abounds with literary promise . . . A worthwhile read for its intimate investigations of global unrest.” — Literary Review of Canada