The Feeling House

Author:

Saleh Addonia

Title:

The Feeling House

Publisher:

Holland House

Nataka Books Reviews: 

The Feeling House

This book is not easily classified into one genre, meandering as it does from memoir to storytelling that feels like any novel in the search for 'Her.' A dose of philosophy is shared before parts of the book take the form of  a critical essay and back to memoir again. The lack of rigid structure works well for the book with the focus being on the protagonist, who is also the narrator.


Saleh is half Eritrean, half Ethiopian based on his parents heritage. He has travelled from Ethiopia to Sudan and later finds himself in England. As a speaker of Tigrinya, Arabic and English, Saleh makes insightful observations of the hospitality, acceptance and treatment of newly arrived people. The difference between the 'newly' arrived and those 'earlier' arrived is purely timing. The only things that has not changed since time began is that people have always moved, for one reason or another, through pull or push. 


The aspirations of the narrator come through the provided details which makes a reader experience the decision making themselves. 


This is an excellent book which takes us through the actual story rather than headlines we all read and learn nothing from. 


-- Review by Nataka Books

Nataka Books Full Review: 

The Feeling House

Publisher's Synopsis:


A young girl awakes alone next to a burning truck and befriends a nearby cloud; an Eritrean refugee studies interior design as he attempts to build his new home; a group of illegal immigrants embark on an arduous journey in the city as they desperately seek: Her. Darting from the dark underbelly of London to the sexually impenetrable home, Saleh Addonia writes stories of displacement and frustration. Tinged with isolation and alienation, each tale strikes the imagination as Addonia weaves the surreal into devastatingly human stories. With a fable-like wisdom and poignancy, 'The Feeling House' is a compelling, sometimes moving, portrayal of years of a profound disorientation that has fractured time and memory.


Review:


We first came across 'The Feeling House' when reviewing the Holland House catalogue and were instantly fascinated by the promise of this book. At a time when many peoples are caught between borders and countries, the personal stories can be lost in the daily news which focus on statistics for headlines and less on the people. There are always reports of how many people arrived and not enough about the people themselves who each have a story to share, lives to rebuild and communities to contribute to. All this is normally lost but Saleh Addonia gives his story and many others a voice.


This book is not easily classified into one genre, meandering as it does from memoir to storytelling that feels like any novel in the search for 'Her.' A dose of philosophy is shared before parts of the book take the form of  a critical essay and back to memoir again. The lack of rigid structure work well for the book with the focus being on the protagonist, who is also the narrator.


Saleh is half Eritrean, half Ethiopian based on his parents heritage. He has travelled from Ethiopia to Sudan to Sweden to Italy and later finds himself in England. As a speaker of Tigrinya, Arabic and English, Saleh makes insightful observations of the hospitality, acceptance and treatment of newly arrived people. The difference between the 'newly' arrived and those 'earlier' arrived is purely timing. The only things that has not changed since time began is that people have always moved, for one reason or another, through pull or push. 


The first observation emerges through language, how newly arrived people are called: from refugee, to foreigner to immigrant or expat depending on various traits. The lexicon changes depending on who is being described.


The book begins with the dreamy search for 'Her'. Is this a person, a country or a state of being? We are taken into the narrator's confidence as he recounts the many experiences with friends Ali, Jamal, Romana, Fatima, Ritjana or Claudia. As we mentioned before, the book works on two levels, a memoir on one side and a critique of the unfolding events on the other. The dialogue between the characters is well crafted to bring this alive. This is probably the best part of the book, the reader never feels like they are reading events from day to day but rather as a deep introspection brought about actually unfolding scenes.


The aspirations of the narrator come through the provided details which makes a reader experience the decision making themselves. More often than not, outsiders have an opinion of what people in this situation require. This book takes us through their aspiration and the ranking of their daily requirements compared to what a bureaucratic system provides. Courses on photography or the arts are available but furniture at home to improve the lived experience ranks lower. This is an excellent book which takes us through the actual story rather than headlines we all read and learn nothing from. Above all, this story is about the search for love, loving and being loved. The setting just happens to involve displacement. The reaction after being dumped by Ritjana makes this clear.


-- Review by Nataka Books