Review: Incarceration Nations
Other Press, pp. 336
Much of the content in Incarceration Nations is provided in a poetic and illustrious way. In many cases, the use of literary devices such as metaphors and vivid imagery could seem out of place in an informative nonfiction piece, but Dreisinger’s creative writing style is perfectly suited for the people and the places that she is describing. Dreisinger’s descriptions draw the reader into each of the scenes that she depicts, and help to create a mental picture that allows one to fully appreciate the unique situations of the facilities and the people that they house. For example, when depicting Pollsmoor Prison in South Africa, Dreisinger makes note of the stark difference that often typifies an institution and its surroundings with this statement: “The backdrop of exquisite mountain ranges is staggering: the whole prison is reminiscent of refuse discarded in the middle of Eden.” A description of the view outside a Bangkok women’s facility window delineates the same sort of contrast: “The scene outside the window steals my attention; its lush green mountains and rice paddies opening their arms to eternity. Why is the road to hell, around the world, paved with magical vistas? It makes their dramatic disruption by concrete towers and shimmering barbed wire that much more unsettling, a startling marriage of ugliness and beauty.” The use of figurative language such as this is an effective avenue for Dreisinger to accurately share the experiences of her expedition.
All of the accounts of Dreisinger’s two-year pilgrimage are presented in a way that utilizes figurative language and creative literary devices. This style adds to the impact of what Dreisinger experienced, and allows the reader to sense the reality and the urgency of the global prison crisis, as well as recognize the need for change. Throughout Incarceration Nations, a sometimes forgotten sub-society is brought to light, and Dreisinger is able to share and foster the entity that keeps her mission and her work alive: hope.