In an unknown city in Asia, Saeed and Nadia slowly become aware of each other. Their meeting over a coffee is where their story begins, and slowly they start to see each other more. But in a city that is full of tension and with the low-level conflict threatening to erupt into full-scale war, their moments of intimacy are what keeps them sane. Inevitable their greatest fears are realised and civil war commences. Family members are lost in the crossfire, and they know that they need to escape to try and make something of their love and lives. Passing through a door, they end up in a European country. The battle is no more, but as aliens in a strange land, the violence may have ended but hate has not. Making the most of their lives they scratch out an existence before the opportunity for another life through another door beckons.
It is a strangely beautiful book, whilst also being heart-wrenching. Hamid has written a microcosm of the world’s troubles seen through the eyes of a couple who seek companionship as much as they do love and has come up with a metaphor for the current and growing refugee crisis. These people are often here because they have no choice, don’t particularly want to be here and would rather be in their home country living peacefully as they once did. It hovers on the edge of science and dystopian fiction with the ability of Saeed and Nadia pass through doors to other places and the way that the states they inhabit are full of drones and pervasive surveillance. I am a big fan of those type of novels, but this part jarred with the intensity of the rest of the prose on how innocent people are forced to makes these changes to their lives just to exist. It is thought-provoking though and I have a feeling that it will be a book that will rumble around in my subconscious for a while. 3.5 stars.