It would be fair to say that I really liked Chris W Kim HERMAN BY TRADE. It was richly drawn in both visual art and character. With his second novel, STRAYS Kim might just have created a timely and compelling piece about one of the worlds most difficult topics, immigration. When a massive sink hole, destroys much of his town, a young man flees the disaster to come and live in the city with his sister Carey. Happenstance and an eye for a opening, gets him a job as a delivery man, delivering across the city to businesses. He is overwhelmed when he happens to meet old friends and acquaintances from his old town. This is a familiar story for anyone who has either migrated, emigrated or embarked on a journey for any length of time. You meet people from your home town, home country or even home language (it can be quite enriching to hear the simple sound of English in a country alien to you.) All of these elements trickle into STRAYS. The delight at a familiar face. The awkwardness of a place you are unfamiliar with and the new felt belonging, that the first brings to defeat the second.

But this is not all Kim novel has to provide. When the season is over, almost all lose their jobs and are left desperate for work. They have to take up wherever they can and this troubles his conscience. When they are committed to work for a millionaire and then lose the job, due to the group living altogether in a shared house, it forces the young man to take them into his sister Carey house. Now this is the most pertinent part of the story. Much is made about the themes of isolation and what makes and breaks society but not about the way immigrants view their own. Carey character has a job, a good life and has escaped the home town she may have been at odds with. Kim masterfully relates the growing tension in terms of the us (or in Carey case my) position in this ‘new world’ and them. She is the first wave, has settled and is different from them that are new. Kim’s use of frame and word gel this together and reveal a depth of knowledge that is brilliant. I wont spoil it but STRAYS is a quiet epic. Channelling the most potent topic of the right, into an honest and sometimes unexpected tale of humanity and place.

Paperback with flaps, 192 pp, £14.99 
Released: 28 October 2021
ISBN: 978-1-910593-99-8
170mm x 240mm, Black and White

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