Saturday, August 08, 2020


Collision / Merle Kroger 
trans. from the German by Rachel Hildebrandt & Alexandra Roesch
Los Angeles: Unnamed Press, 2017, c2015.
240 p.
The Spirit of Europe, a huge cruise ship, is in the Mediterranean when they are stopped by a raft of Algerian refugees in the water. The cruise ship must cut the engines and wait for a Spanish sea rescue boat to arrive...but a storm is coming. 

This setup is made much more suspenseful by the way it is told. It moves between many of the characters' POV -- from the staff and guests on the cruise ship to the Spanish sea rescue team, to the refugees in their raft and other people in the refugees' lives.

There are characters from all over the world: a cruise ship is a perfect microcosm of a larger world of privilege, and it is juxtaposed with the dangerous, rickety raft that is overcrowded with refugees and is adrift. There are levels of privilege and experience among all the characters, and they interact in different ways with various other characters. A musician on the ship has a relationship with another staff member, but has a very different kind of relationship with the rich ladies on the cruise, for example. It's really interesting how the characters are revealed by the way they respond and react to the crisis situation they find themselves in, but also by the way they speak to and react physically to, other characters. 

The staff are all from different countries and have their own secret concerns. There is also a freighter involved in this situation, with a mix of Russian and Ukrainian crew, and even the politics there are drawn out - I found this so interesting. 

And of course the heart of the story is the plight of the refugees. Their longing for freedom is so strong they are risking their lives for it, but they are still all individuals with their own plans and goals.  

Each of these individual stories affect the other in some way. There is trauma, grief, loss, but also hope and connection. 

I found this an absorbing,  well crafted story and appreciated the structure as well as the content. I found the cover unappealing but the book is well worth picking up. 


  1. Another good one. I'm intrigued by the international mix of characters. I lived and worked in Algeria for about six years at one point, so I'm curious to see how they are portrayed in the novel. Definitely going on the list of books I'll be searching out.

    1. That's kind of amazing how many things you've done! I think you might like this one.


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