It can be a hard world for immigrants and working-class people, and this book definitely shows that. A collection of short stories, each one full of heart-breaking situations and depressing tableaus.

About the Book

In this gripping short story collection, Pajalic depicts working-class characters in all their gutsiness and glory. Featuring animals in most stories as a motif for grief and hope, Pajalic alternates between tender stories of survival and the gritty underbelly of Melbourne’s Western suburbs. Even when his characters are shady and flawed, morality and conscience shine through.

Drawing on his own experiences, Pajalic recreates first-hand the reality of coming to Australia as a refugee because of war and persecution. While many of the stories focus on the experience of Bosnian diaspora, it also tells the universal story of the refugee experience exploring homesickness, loss, grief, cultural shock, and making a new home in a landscape completely different to where you come from.

‘Raw, authentic and compelling, these stories of refugees’ generational trauma and pain also honour the resilience and determination of the characters. Bracing and rewarding reading.’ Paddy O’Reilly author of Other Houses

‘Reminiscent of Carver, Pajalic’s stories are sharp, direct and austere. A fascinating read.’ Ennis Cehic author of Sadvertising

‘Like Chekhov who thinks that for a writer nothing should be unclean, Fikret takes us to murky places where English is broken and pit bulls are prized; bodies are ravaged by manual labour and generosity abounds as often as brutality. Humanity there is uncovered, revealing itself to be as instinctual and capable of ferocity and sacrifice as the many animals that populate Fikret’s stories. In Complication, Fikret uncovers the origins of violence with unflinching insight and unwavering compassion.’ Lee Kofman author of The Writer Laid Bare

My Thoughts

The writing is quite beautiful and lyrical in this collection of stories. But the stories themself are hard, gritty, and sometimes just plain horrifying. They truly show the worst of humanity and deeply disturbed me in several instances.

Fikret Pajalic has crafted something of great social significance, showing us a peek behind the curtain of what it’s like to be a refugee or asylum seeker in a foreign country. The seedy underbelly of the world. And it is not a pretty place to be.

I understand what he was trying to do. Shocking us with difficult, extreme stories to hone in on the bad side of the whole experience. But there are other ways to show us. The extreme levels of violence and inhumanity in some of these stories seemed like violence for violence’s sake. Not something I’m a fan of, as we’ve discussed before. But I feel it could have been achieved without such gratuitous, graphic violence. That is however my own opinion. Others probably feel differently. I didn’t check my trigger warnings and that is my fault, not the fault of the author.

I am grateful to the author and Love Books Tours for including me on this tour.

Who’s It For?

If you’re interested in the human experience, especially that of refugees and immigrants, this might be a book you would enjoy. However, it is fiction, and it is a very difficult book. It is not easy, and I don’t think many people will find it exactly enjoyable, so much as edifying or educational. Please check the content warnings before reading.

Content Warnings: This is one that the author does, thankfully include content warnings for. There is a QR code at the front you can scan to get them. He lists them as graphic violence, sexual abuse, profanity, animal cruelty, racism, PTSD, loss/grief, medical trauma, religious or cultural trauma, and homophobia. Some others I noticed were SI and eviction.

Question of the Day

Have you ever read a book about refugees or immigrants?

About the Author

Fikret Pajalic came to Melbourne as a refugee, learnt English in his mid-twenties and started writing years later. He has won and placed in competitions, published in anthologies and literary magazines. His fiction has appeared in Meanjin, Overland, Westerly, Etchings, Sleepers, Antipodes, The Big Issue, Hotel Amerika, Wisconsin Review, The Minnesota Review, Fjords Review, Sheepshead Review, Bop Dead City, Structo, Paper and Ink, JAAM and elsewhere. In 2014 he was awarded a Creative Victoria grant, and in 2015 an Australia Council grant for the development of his literary manuscript ‘Wanderings’ and in 2016 from Brimbank City Council for the development of chapbook. He is married to author Amra Pajalic and they live in Melbourne’s western suburbs with their daughter.


Amazon US: ebook/dp/B0CHP1F94C/ref=sr_1_1
Bookshop US:
Amazon UK:
Author Website:

As a (US) Affiliate, I may earn on qualifying purchases.