Trailer ☆ The Lost Baggage of Silvia Guzmán PDF by ò Mike Robbins Update bumped this up to 5 stars as I m changing my rating system in my head This novel is not about politics, drugs or asylum seekers Although these themes are prevalent in much the same way as hypocrisy, greed, selfishness and fear We live in a world where all this exists This is a novel about Silvia.
Silvia s father had a plan for her to move on in life He set it up, she was going to have a successful life away from the troubled unnamed South American country she called home However, a traumatic event occurred the evening before she was due to leave, which triggered the spiral of events that place Silvia in situations beyond her control.
Silvia s character is passive and unassuming, she quietly goes with the flow without upsetting anyone, including herself Unfortunately, not many characters, especially the ones who are supposed to care, want to know about this quiet young lady.
Through her quiet, thinking, moments we are taken back to her life growing up and who Silvia was before the chaos Her country, family and friendships are all disclosed to the reader as flashbacks from events at a particular point in the novel I didn t struggle with the times shift as I think the author blended these smoothly and efficiently.
This is a thought provoking tale where the author does not shy away from shocking scenes and sensitive themes How he portrays them though is by cleverly allowing the reader to reach their own conclusions I also particularly enjoyed the vivid atmospheres that the author creates with his expansive use of colours, light and sounds, so that I felt exactly in that place and time with Silvia.
I wasn t expecting to feel so emotional at the end I admit to having a tear in my eye For Silvia.
Many thanks to the author for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
They came to Silvia s house, this one night, just before she was supposed to leave They destroyed her life, her family and suddenly Silvia is fleeing the country and arrives in London In the house, of the only contact in London her father gave her, lives someone else Without knowing anyone in this for Silvia alien country, she ends up, first in a refugee house, and then with a British family Even though nightmares keep her awake at night she manages to take care of the little boy of the family, works as a housekeeper and finds her way in this different culture and big foreign city While the first impression is that she found a place to stay safe with a family, the reader realises fast that they exploit Silvia Instead of helping her to overcome her trauma and assisting her in starting a new life, the couple is not interested much in Silvia as a person but rather as a neo colonial way of using her as a slave The the story of Silvia continues the we learn about the persons in Silvia s past and present life and get into different compelling storylines With every chapter it becomes difficult to stop reading, as the characters evolve and their stories come together.
This book tells the story of Silvia s journey, about her struggles being a refugee in London, about the people she meets and how the world around her is often very different from the first impression one has of it While Silvia is the main character of the book, it discusses themes than Silvia and her search for stability and safety Even though written in the 90s, this story is timely than ever This book is about people, their struggles in life, their problems, egos, and peeling their characters in a fascinating way with every chapter until the true person is visible It is about how refugees are treated and perceived, how refugees are exploited and about hypocrisy, greet and selfishness It relates to our contemporary debates of asylum seeking and the struggles refugees have to live through And just when you think you know Silvia and the other characters in her life, the author surprises you with another chapter of how the story of Silvia and the people of her life end.
The author of the lost baggage of Silvia Guzman says this book is about Silvia but it feels it is also about today and how we live in the Western world, where opportunistic behaviour, sexism and hypocrisy is passively accepted and only few find the strengths to do what really matters to produce change for others The characters the author created in this book are not black and white, they are grey, and while reading their stories we maybe should ask ourselves what would have been our character like if we would have being part of Silvia story and how can we today help the many Silvias arriving in our countries I couldn t put this downplots, sub plots, characters dancing in and out, all weaving a thought provoking tapestry, and calling on the reader to consider or reconsider her views on basic and some complex ethical questions The pain of exile Not many novels give such a vivid sense of the loss of a coherent sense of self that accompanies being uprooted from one s home whether by choice or necessity The vulnerability that accompanies exile is explored through a number of characters even one who drives a white jaguar Yes, there is the blatant satirization of the superficially ethical, which at times seems overwrought There is also the encyclopedic knowledge of London, which is often off putting than informative at least for a reader who doesn t know London so well since it makes the ethical observations rather place specific than one would hope But there is genuine beauty and goodness in this novel filled with characters who would quite happily step on your shoulders to get a better position And it is this goodness that rights so many wrongs committed throughout It leaves one with a sense of hope that all will work out for those who value things like kindness and love and genuine talent over air time and a bigger house in a posh part of London My editor s eye couldn t help but note the number of copy editing errors, which slowed my reading pace for a bit so I could make sense of what was attempting to be narrated But this is such a good story I couldn t bear taking away a star for something so mundane.
I highly recommend this book.
I was going to give this 4 stars because there seemed to be too many characters that aren t needed for the story then Mike showed me why he is the expert writer and I why I should stick to reading the last 20 odd pages are brilliant, everything gets tied up nicely, I then realised what he was doing, it has meticulous planning.
Silvia seems to be very meek and I didn t think much of her as a person, but as things start building up at the end I realised just how much I did care about her, the sneaky little minx I think this is the first book I ve read that deals with somebody trying to get refugee status, I felt the whole process was only lightly touched, for me a bit info might have been interesting but then I ve already been proved wrong with the character issue.
All in all I really enjoyed this story, Mike is a wonderful story teller and I m looking forward to what he produces next.
We need to talk about this baggage I read this twice the first time I got a little side tracked by the story within a story the book written by Tom back to him later The second time though, I read for the sheer pleasure of the South American descriptions, the happy coincidences, and the satisfaction of knowing that everything turned out just as it should, much like it does in a Kate Atkinson novel The violence, rape, hypocrisy, poverty, drugs, and plain meanness of this world are not spared us The reality is that refugees are refugees for a reason and these reasons frequently have their origin in the habits and behaviours of those of us in developed countries Robbins doesn t hesitate to point this out, and the message is even timely and relevant today than it was back in the early 1990 s when this book was originally written This is the story of Silvia, a refugee from an unnamed South American country who winds up in London after her father is murdered Her story is every refugee s one of fear, confusion, and a life in limbo Today the British government and several others, noticeably Australia s would most likely shove her into a detention camp to suffer humiliation for an unknown length of time In our novel, Silvia is taken up by Harriet and Tom, wealthy and hypocritical do gooders who see the chance of a free au pair to look after their young son Through carefully constructed flash backs we learn Silvia s story The vibrant descriptions of her life back home transport us to South America Robbin s skill takes us immediately and vividly into her home and her life, the car journeys with her family, the terrifying bus trip to escape the murderous military His acute sense of place is no less effective when describing London locations and characters Tom is the anti hero, an egotistical writer so wrapped up in himself and his work that he utterly fails to notice in Silvia the intelligence and talent that she possesses in vastly superior quantities to his own My only criticism is that although I understand the desired irony of the story within a story, I would have preferred a stronger focus on Silvia s world in all aspects , and a different way to point out Tom s less than stellar qualities In his introduction Robbin s points out that any book is of its time and is best left there I beg to differ the issue of refugees is, if anything, even relevant today I would like to see this book, with a bit of work, possibly longer, republished These are issues that we all need to be talking about.
What a journey And I m starting to see a pattern with Mike Robbins the crafty disguise There s a lot of sensible layering to this story and a lot of taboos and not so taboos that have been tackled along the way I loved uncovering Silvia who starts like somewhat of a mystery at least to me and is gradually fleshed through her backstory again, brace yourselves This is the first book I ve read dealing with such a sensitive topic which made it all the fascinating How refugees are perceived nowadays is not far from Silvia s reality and knowing a few myself, I think they ll identify with Silvia plenty I m glad Mike didn t break my heart towards the end and I ve already recommended the story to my uncle, who read it in a matter of hours and wants me to say thumbs up on his behalf.
When Silvia S Country Falls Apart After A Coup, She Flees To London Picked Up By The Police, She Is Dumped For Weeks In A Bed And Breakfast With A Crazy Landlady, Then Rescued By Cold Intellectuals She Finds She Is A Nuisance To One Side And A Cause To The Other, With No Dreams, Family Or Opinions Of Her Own Until She Meets Another, Earlier, Refugee And Then She Has A Surprise For EveryoneThe Lost Baggage Of Silvia Guzm N Is A Story Of Flight, Loss And The Pain Of Exile But It Is Also A Sideways Look At Liberal London Perceptive, Caustic And Sometimes Very Funny I received a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Silvia Guzm n is a young woman who flees from an unnamed South American country to claim asylum in London The novel describes the people she meets as she struggles to find safety and stability in a strange city from fellow refugees, to police officers, to the city s middle class.
Silvia s inner life is rich and complex She recalls her life in South America, the sights, the smells, the sounds She loves music She is from an eminent, politically engaged family She is also deeply traumatised by events in her own country But when she comes to London, she is stripped of all that identity People see only a refugee In a clever reversal, many of the London characters are caricatures This is particularly true of the middle class couple who take her in Despite their supposed liberal credentials, they have no sense of who Silvia is and they make no effort to find out, treating her instead as cheap labour The husband, Tom, is an exuberantly unpleasant character, a media friendly author who writes about exploitation but is concerned only with his own interests The book was written in the 1990s but surprisingly little has changed Silvia probably wouldn t need to leave South America but there are plenty of other countries experiencing conflict and civil war Life for refugees in London is probably even harder now than it is in the book Breakfast TV is as awful as it ever was.
The book interweaves a number of themes linking the superficially different worlds of London and Silvia s country The author has successfully combined biting humour with a sensitive handling of some very dark events While Tom can t make the connection between global injustice and the people in his own home, the author certainly does.
I recommend this one, especially in the current climate where refugees and non white or non Anglo Saxon residents are back in the warped tabloid news media in Britain and elsewhere In fact, the only reason I didn t give 4 stars is that my inbuilt negativity found the surprisingly happy ending a bit too improbable maybe I have lost my faith in there being genuinely unselfish, good hearted people out there Silvia is a fascinating character who bridges the horrors of a mythical, dysfunctional Latin American country with the hostility and hypocrisy of Britain s inept reaction to foreigners who are in need of help or shelter From the excessive body searches for cocaine at Heathrow, through the squalor many asylum seekers are forced to live in to the superficiality of London s pseudo liberals treating her as a cheap maid slave while patting their own backs for giving her shelter She receives for us perhaps unexpected support from the police and the immigration authorities rather than those others who loudly claim to be good people, but finally finds support and understanding from someone who has gone through the very same experiences, but at no time does she want to be dependent on handouts she wants to be something and achieve something and be recognized for the honesty of her story There is much to enjoy here the insightful descriptions of the fascinating mass of contradictions and beauty that is S America the emptiness of London s fashionable moneyed liberalism the humour of the fairly mediocre and formulaic sex and shopping novel within the novel the parallel world lived in by Britain s refugees be they from overseas or from failed families around our country.
This book was an unexpected gem Part Gabriel Garc a M rquez, and part biographical insight in to the workings and moral landscape of London life in a decade since past, I felt myself questioning which world was surreal and which was inviting It is clear that the author has channeled real life experience in to these pages and I found myself asking which character s the author was in reality Inwardly hoping he was the Gringo on the bus , whilst simultainiously consigning myself to the reality that some of the author s history was alive in the flaws of the London counterparts.
Tragic, compelling, graphic, funny, ironic and at times, fleetingly beautiful read from cover to cover in one go I would definitely recommend this book