A heartbreaking account of a poor and illiterate young West African’s odyssey to Europe, translated by one of Britain’s most celebrated playwrights.
Ibrahima, whose family live in a village in the West African country of Guinea, helps his father sell shoes at a street stall in the capital, Conakry. At the sudden death of his father, he becomes the head of the family and picks up various skills, always alone and away from home, although his dream is to be a truck driver in his country.
But when his little brother, Alhassane, suddenly disappears, heading for Europe in a bid to earn money for the family, Ibrahima leaves everything behind to try to find him and convince him to go back to their village and continue his education. In an epic journey, Ibrahima risks his life many times searching for his little brother.
Each waystation that Ibrahima passes through takes him to another world, with different customs, other languages, other landscapes, other currencies, and new challenges to overcome. His willpower is astonishing, and the friendship and generosity of strangers he encounters on the way help him to keep going.
After enduring many trials and tribulations, he learns of Alhassane’s fate. Unable to return home, he embarks on the journey to Europe himself.
Little Brother is a testimonial account that gives a voice, heart, and soul, and flesh and bones to the seemingly nameless masses of people struggling and dying, trying only to achieve a better life for themselves and their families.
‘Who among us could have walked half so far, survived half so many perils, as Ibrahima Balde? Told with innocence and honesty, his is an astounding story of kindness, cruelty, and everything in between.’
Alan Gratz, New York Times bestselling author of Refugee
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‘A deeply moving novel that reminds us of the power of perseverance and love in the face of violent borders. This is an important book.’
Reece Jones, author of White Borders
‘A breathtaking and eye-opening account in the best tradition of storytelling, where a true story is told simply and without embellishment, for Balde's painful journey needs none. Along the way, we are brought into a world where, despite unimaginable cruelty and violence, compassion is found in the slightest of places and where people who have so little to give always find a way to do so. Above all, perhaps, it is an incredible story of dedication, loyalty, and one boy's determination to do the right thing, despite all odds.’
Mark R. Thornton, author of Kid Moses
‘A heartbreaking account of a poor West African's journey to Europe, prompted by the disappearance of his younger brother who had gone ahead. From a remote village in Guinea, Ibrahima's journey takes in a range of cultures, languages and dangers in a story that says far more than dehumanising statistics ever could.’
The New European
‘Balde’s narration is concise and unemotional, but its lightness of touch belies the weight of worry and expectation he has carried since the age of 13.’