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The Leash and the Ball

The Leash and the Ball

The Leash and the Ball by Rodaan Al Galidi, translation: Jonathan Reeder
(World Editions, 2022, 272 pages)

After nine years in a Dutch asylum center, Samir finally has the chance to start his new life as a European citizen. But it’s a full-time occupation for him to discover that integration needs a dog leash and a rubber ball. Happily, this distracts him from what is happening in his native land, Iraq, and from Leda, who stole his heart in the first village he stayed in after being granted refugee status.

In this hilarious adventure story, we follow the lovable and gritty Samir as he talks his way into every type of accommodation to be found in this new country full of incomprehensible rules and habits. His perspective provides profound, sometimes painful insights about the West, in this timely exploration of the meaning of home, and making oneself at home against all odds.

‘The chasm is there. But Samir doesn’t waste time complaining about it—he does everything in his power to get closer, both to Leda and to the Netherlands. That’s what makes this novel so digestible and so painful at the same time; it’s more of a comedy of manners about someone trying to integrate than an indictment of the impossibility of ever succeeding at that, which makes the criticism inherent in the novel hit all the harder.’ – NRC Handelsblad