ABOUT THE BOOK
Jean starts at a new school and struggles to fit in. He develops an unlikely friendship with rowdy class mate James, who gets him into a string of sticky situations; fights, theft, and more. At home, his parents, Mami and Papa, who fled political violence in Congo under the dictatorial regime of Le Marechal, to seek asylum as refugees – which Jean and his star-student little sister, Marie, have no knowledge of – pressure him to focus on school and sort his act out. Jean is then suspended, and Marie, who usually gets on his nerves, helps him keep his secret, which draws them closer together.
As the family attempts to integrate and navigate modern British society, as well as hold on to their roots and culture, they meet Tonton, a sapeur, womaniser, alcohol-loving, party enthusiast, who, much to Papa’s dislike, after losing his job, moves in with them. Tonton introduces the family – via his church where colourful characters such as Pastor Kaddi, Patricia and Nadege congregate – to a familiar community of fellow country-people, making them feel slightly less alone. They begin to settle, but the reality of their situation unravels a threat to their future, whilst the fear of uncertainty remains.
With colourful characters and luminous prose, No Place To Call Home is a tale of belonging, identity and immigration, of hope and hopelessness, of loss –not by death, but by distance– and, by no means the least, of love.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JJ BOLA is a Kinshasa born, London raised writer, poet, educator and workshop facilitator. He performs regularly at shows and festivals around the world. JJ Bola’s work is centred on a narrative of empowerment, humanisation, healing of trauma as well as discovery of self through art, literature and poetry. He believes that the true purpose of art is to expose the reality of this world and how to, most importantly, survive it. No place To Call Home is JJ Bola’s debut novel.
JJ Bola in conversation with actress Cate Blanchett in Switzerland for the UN Refugee Agency
Our Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett is speaking live with refugee Aya Abdullah and former refugee JJ Bola on the power of storytelling.
Posted by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency on Monday, January 22, 2018
JJ Bola’s words are read out in the House of Commons by MP Angus MacNeil
No Place To Call Home picked as one of Media Diversified Top 15 Books published in 2017
JJ Bola takes us back to his childhood home and tells us why, as a refugee, he always felt like one of the bad guys from the movies in this personal account on the BBC World Service ‘The Cultural Frontline’ radio programme: 14:40 minutes in
No Place To Call Home long listed for The Guardian ‘Not The Booker Prize’