Never home: Djamila Ibrahim’s debut

Lineage and longing in a story collection that spans Addis Ababa and Toronto

To the exiled, the emigrants, and the displaced, a homeland can turn into a parent more powerful than any other. The desire to belong authentically to a nation, to align one’s identity markers and political ideals with its values, to be accepted by this authority and protected in return—it resembles the meaning one looks for in family. But how do you love a nation that betrayed, imprisoned, or otherwise hurt you and your loved ones? This is the question nagging at the heart of Djamila Ibrahim’s debut short-story collection, Things Are Good Now. These nine stories explore the impact of political instability on the lives of East African refugees and immigrants. Each of Ibrahim’s fictional characters intimately knows what it’s like to suffer in a world prone to sudden shifts: they often reference controversial global leaders, ethnic tensions, and religious strife, and their flashbacks reveal wartime victories and...