The Great Debate UK

Stories are powerful things



Anna Perera is the author of The Glass Collector and Guantanamo Boy. The opinions expressed are her own. Thomson Reuters will host a follow-the-sun live blog on March 8, 2011, the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

The more we read stories about other cultures, the more we find places of balance in our own lives. My new young-adult novel, The Glass Collector, is a contemporary tale about a Zabbaleen teenage boy who struggles to survive amongst the trash heaps of Cairo in Egypt.

Like my last novel, Guantanamo Boy, it deals with real events and locations, but as Stephen King said, ‘Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth within the lie.’ Shaping the lies so the truth remains undimmed isn’t always a bundle of laughs but the lure to create vivid and powerful stories about dispossessed teenagers from other cultures continues to captivate me as a writer.

The idea for The Glass Collector was triggered by an article I read about the Zabbaleen who are mainly Coptic Christians who collect and sort more than 80 percent of Cairo’s waste. A mind boggling statistic considering the city’s population is around 17 million. The Coptic Church is of ancient origin and was isolated from other churches after it was declared heretical in 451 AD.