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 Djamila Ibrahim’s powerful story collection, 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 realizes she’s made a mistake.
Things Are Good Now is about remorse and the power of memory, and about the hardships of a post-9/11 reality that labels many as suspicious or dangerous because of their names or skin colour alone. 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.