‘The Road Home’, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2008, is a thought-provoking look at the life of Lev, an Eastern European from an unspecified country. It is a story of our times as it follows his travails and attempts to find work and live in a strange country. It gives an individual human face to the economic migrants who arrive in England with little money, little language but huge hopes.
Many scenes are exceptionally well realised such as the 50 hour coach journey that brings Lev to the London bus station and then leaves him there, bewildered. It is notable that he gets his help mainly from other immigrants, such as Ahmed and Christy Slane. The reader becomes involved with everyone in the book as even the most peripheral characters are well rounded and believable. There are many delightful moments e.g. Simone’s menus, the descriptions of food, Jasmine’s light-filled multi-coloured front room and the exploits of his larger-than-life friend, Rudi, and his gas guzzling Chevy.
Perhaps there are too many instances of good luck, some of which were obviously signposted e.g. Ruby leaving him some money. But overall the author evokes brilliantly the experience, thoughts, ambitions and fears of what many migrants are feeling in today’s Britain.