One Man’s Struggle for an Identity

Non-Fiction - Social Issues
220 Pages
Reviewed on 04/21/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jennie More for Readers' Favorite

Stateless: One Man's Struggle for an Identity by Gerard van Leeuwen is the true story of Kamal Kojadin, who is unregistered and finds himself unable to open a bank account, get married, or care for his children. Kamal suspects that various governments were denying his requests for identity documents because of his father’s position as the department head of the central intelligence agency in the independent state of Croatia. Kamal found out that his father was responsible for all intelligence activity directed against foreign intelligence services. The endless pursuit of identity and the consequent losses he experiences result in his statelessness. Despite being intelligent, amiable, resourceful, and able to speak six languages, he cannot find a home for himself anywhere. He goes around in circles with the government, only for his requests to be declined.

I found Stateless by Gerard van Leeuwen to be an intriguing story about Kamal's life and his search, exploring subjects such as religion and marriage, family, and economics in the process. The story unfolds as a captivating drama portraying the tragedy that befalls children because of their parents' decisions and actions. Kamal is subjected to a life without an identity or family because of his father's career and personal choices. I was engrossed as van Leeuwen captured both the hope and hopelessness of Kamal's story. The book is a riveting depiction of one man's search for identity, leaving me to think about all the other people who remain stateless. Van Leeuwen has awakened a more profound sense of empathy for those who remain stateless and a keen sense of awareness of their plight.