No Place to Call Home
- 288 Pages
- June 5, 2018
- ISBN: 9781628728880
A tale of love, loss, identity, and belonging, No Place to Call Home tells the story of a family who fled to the United Kingdom from their native Congo to escape the political violence under the dictator, Le Maréchal. The young son Jean starts at a new school and struggles to fit in. An unlikely friendship gets him into a string of sticky situations, eventually leading to a suspension. At home, his parents pressure him to focus on school and get his act together, to behave more like his star-student little sister.
As the family tries to integrate in and navigate modern British society while holding on to their roots and culture, they meet Tonton, a womanizer who loves alcohol and parties. Much to Jean's father's dismay, after losing his job, Tonton moves in with them. He introduces the family—via his church where colorful characters congregate—to a familiar community of fellow country-people, making them feel slightly less alone. The family begins to settle, but their current situation unravels and a threat to their future appears, while the fear of uncertainty remains.
—Malu Halasa, author of Mother of All Pigs
“In this portrait of a family stuck in limbo, JJ Bola’s empathy for even his minor characters is palpable. In examining the unpredictability of life in exile, Bola shows that joy can be found even in the depths of pain. His poet’s sensibility paints each line with beautiful rhythm and imagery. Mami, Papa, Jean, and Marie stayed with me long after I finished reading No Place to Call Home.”
—Ayesha Harruna Attah, author of The Hundred Wells of Salaga
“Lovingly written, No Place to Call Home is a heartfelt, poignant, and much-needed insight into the human stories behind those whom our society often prefers to ignore by labeling a refugee.”
—Winnie M Li, author of Dark Chapter, winner of the Not The Booker Prize 2017, shortlisted for SI Leeds Literary Prize 2016 and CWA Debut Dagger 2015
“No Place to Call Home is a riveting account of a Congolese family who had to make home abroad due to turmoil in their homeland. JJ Bola utilizes words like a painter uses his/her brush to tell a vivid and eloquent story of an immigrant family in London. Through his mastery of the English language, he artfully captures the nuance and challenges of their trials and tribulations in a new country. Whether the setting is London or Kinshasa, JJ Bola seamlessly immerses you in Congolese culture and way of life while introducing the reader to the Congolese heritage, politics and history.”
—Kambale Musavuli, social entrepreneur, international human rights advocate, and National Spokesperson for the Friends of the Congo
“For a first work of fiction, No Place to Call Home is an outstanding piece of literary writing by a young author. It is full of so many great insights on contemporary life, including authoritarian rule and social change in Africa; the adventures of African university students abroad; the trials and tribulations of African immigrants as they try to keep up their culture while adjusting to a new life in Europe; the complex and sometimes predatory behavior of evangelical "pastors" and the British school system. The novel is so well written that it makes for enjoyable reading and keeps the reader so engaged until the last page. It ought to be translated in French so it can be widely read in the Congo and in Francophone Africa.”
?Georges Nzongola, writer and professor of African studies
"With colorful characters and luminous prose, and shifting between London, Brussels, and the Congo, JJ Bola’s debut is about belonging, identity and immigration, of hope and hopelessness, of loss and, by no means the least, of love."
"Provides a lens through which the current refugee crisis might be explored and encourages deep empathy for those living in ‘a perpetual purgatory’ between borders, straddling cultures and constantly consumed by fear."
—Akua Gyamfi, The British Blacklist