The child’s hand groping out of the earth is undoubtedly real. As real as Cabdi’s own hand, when it lay on the earth after the machete fell, long ago.
But this hand is alive. And it isn’t in a war-zone. It’s in the playground of a school, just outside the grounds of the English psychiatric hospital where Cabdi is now held. And the man who is stamping on the moving hand is a pigeater.
Pigeaters are in charge of everything. As an accidental asylum seeker, Cabdi is friendless in a country he does not know. He cannot speak English. But he knows that he should not have gone into the playground. He should not have seen the hand in the earth. And whatever lies behind this, it is not his war.
He walks away.
Why should the crime have a witness, anyway?
Asylum goes to dark places. It is a dark book. It deals with the plight of child who is fleeing from war and finds himself caught up in exploitation and abuse. It deals with loss and danger and many faces of evil. But it is also a story about resilience and survival.
As one of its reviewers commented, “Asylum is one of those unique stories that leave a deep imprint on your mind and makes you think of all the darkness that is present in this world and yet, there is a specific beauty that makes you believe in life’s goodness and gives you the will to live on.”
Carly Rheilan was born in Malta and lives in the UK. She was educated in Oxford University (which she hated and left) and then at Brunel (a small-town technological university where she stayed for a PhD). She is a psychiatric nurse. She has done research into criminal justice and taught in universities She has children of her own and has also fostered two children with mental health problems. She has worked many years in the NHS.
Her novels address issues at the edges of psychiatry, crime and personal trauma. In addition to Asylum, she has written three more novels which she is planning to publish this year.
Carly Rheilan lives in an English village. When not working or writing, she spends time with family, rages against the politics of her unequal country, and battles against acres of nettles in a community garden.
She is a rather shy person, but if you want to reach out or ask a question she will answer your email. You can find her email address on her facebook page.