...a deeply disturbing and depressing portrait of the violence, destitution, fear, sense of hopelessness and neglect in which a large number of the world’s estimated 60 million forcibly displaced people now live ... beautifully and movingly painted.
...a superb work that highlights the essential humanity of those faceless masses buffeted by events and desperately seeking salvation in one of the world’s most troubled spots ... This is a highly readable book. It is also a damning indictment of the hypocrisy behind camps, which offer such a pat solution to refugee crises for aid agencies and politicians
[an] ambitious, morally urgent new book ... Mr. Rawlence tells the story of Dadaab both at ground level and high altitude, alternating between portraits of its residents and big-picture accounts of the regional turmoil that drove them there...In theory, this structure makes perfect sense; in practice, it takes an experienced writer to make a seamless blend of personal and political stories, and this book has some conspicuous ridges and lumps.
One surprise of this book is its suspense. It chronicles the lives of people trapped in soul-eroding tedium, yet it moves like a thriller ... It evolves into a meditation on the war on terror, the European refugee crisis, and corruption in the developing world without ever releasing its tight focus on Dadaab.
This is the rare nonfiction book that pulls you into another world. The camp and even the weather are characters of their own ... The book also strips back the bureaucratic sheen of aid organizations and governments, showing how sugar prices jump, plastic-sheet houses appear and spirits soar or fade with decisions made far away.
Rawlence relates the stories of these and other inhabitants of Dadaab, almost all of whom dream of emigrating to the West, in strikingly novelistic prose though it's not always clear whether the perspective adopted is the author's or that of the chapter's protagonist ... Given how successfully Rawlence's reportage inspires outrage, one would have hoped that he'd try to propose solutions for Dadaab's myriad problems.