Review: In ‘More,’ Dispatches From Hell by a Human Trafficker


This disturbing new novel by Hakan Gunday, one of Turkey’s leading young writers, is like a visit to a Hieronymus Bosch hell: terrifying scenes of suffering, starvation, sadism, depravity and the agonies associated with combat zones. “More” recounts the story of a boy named Gaza who works with his father, a human trafficker, and it conveys the suffering of refugees and migrants as they try to make their way from war-torn countries like Afghanistan and Syria through Turkey and eventually on to Greece and the wider world (that is, if they survive a cascade of perils, one more awful than the next). It is also the narrator’s coming-of-age story, starting at 9 — a dark fable that traces the metamorphosis of a bright schoolboy into an appalling monster.

The importance of this novel — which won the French Prix Médicis Étranger award — lies in its horrific portrayals of refugees fleeing desperate situations, sometimes leaving home with a lifetime’s possessions in a single plastic bag, only to find themselves in another inferno, preyed upon by unscrupulous smugglers and thugs. Such passages powerfully convey the plight of a record number of refugees today — the United Nations estimates that 65.3 million people were displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution at the end of 2015 — with the visceral, emotional detail that reports from policy groups rarely possess. Read more