No Place To Call Home is a fictional tale exploring a family that flees the political violence of Le Marechal’s regime in Congo, attempting to settle in Britain.
Written by writer and educator JJ Bola, it is a story very close to home for him, as he was born in Kinshasha- Congo and raised in London. A renowned poet, Bola has published three books of poetry, with No Place To Call Home being his fictional novel debut.
Like its cover, the book flows between borders, going from Britain, to Congo to Belgium and back, effortlessly, as chapter by chapter, Bola slowly reveals how the main character, Jean and his family, arrived in Britain. He sheds light on themes that are very topical. In a time where mainstream discourse is outwardly anti refugee, Bola actually illustrates the distress, fear and turbulence that comes with leaving the place you call home, and humanises his characters, challenging the refugee/ immigrant stereotype.
Throughout the book, Bola skilfully highlights thought-provoking issues, whilst also telling a captivating story, so much so, I nearly missed my stop on the train!
You may recognise aspects of your own life growing up in Britain when reading this, whether it’s people mispronouncing your name, parental pressures to be top of the class, or the ability to switch from English to another language in a nanosecond.
“Time was lost on them, it did not exist for moments such as this; there was no rush, no slowing down, everything was frozen, silent, still. The world did not watch, but it waited; no flowers bloomed, no breeze blew, no clouds passed. James got down. Time started again.”