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Drive-By Saviours

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  47 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Demoralized by his job and dissatisfied with his life, Mark punches the clock with increasing indifference. He wanted to help people; he’d always believed that as social worker he would be able to make a difference in people’s lives. But after six years of bureaucracy and pushing paper Mark has lost hope.
All that changes when he meets Bumi, an Indonesian restaurant worker
Paperback, 341 pages
Published September 27th 2010 by Roseway
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Community Reviews

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Gail Amendt
There is a lot happening in this book, but somehow it all seems to work. The first half follows two story lines in mostly alternating chapters. We meet Mark, a Toronto social worker feeling unfulfilled in a job that has become all paperwork and no people. His home life is no better as his relationship with his live-in girlfriend is floundering. The other storyline follows the life of Bumi. Born on a tiny Indonesian island whose only industry is fishing, Bumi is torn from his family and sent to a ...more
Drive-by Saviours is like two novels in one. Each character's story could have been told with the other character relegated to a minor role in the narrative. Bumi's story is told right from the day of his birth but Mark's story unfolds in a different way; starting in the present day, with occasional flashbacks to fill in the gaps in his life story. Bumi has been in Toronto for some time before he and Mark meet on the TTC in chapter 17, almost at the exact halfway point in the book. Thereafter, t ...more
I'll skip the synopsis as it seems to be covered already.

Why I gave this book 5 stars:
- Handling of mental illness in a meaningful way while the characters' lives extend well beyond the illness.
- Unusual straddling of countries and cultures which seemed to accurately depict the realities of modern cities and that people come from everywhere.
- A compelling plot line that draws you in and forward.
- A dense writing style that requires effort but rewards greatly. Kinda like climbing a mountain; the
Jennifer D
Hmm, pondering on this one for a bit. I would give this novel 3 1/2 stars, if that was possible on GR.

From the cover description:

Demoralized by his job and dissatisfied with his life, Mark punches the clock with increasing indifference. He wanted to help people; he’d always believed that as social worker he would be able to make a difference in people’s lives. But after six years of bureaucracy and pushing paper Mark has lost hope.
All that changes when he meets Bumi, an Indonesian restaurant wor
Indonesia, Canada and OCD.

This was a book with an interesting premise but almost too much content. I got a bit bogged down with the details and it has taken me over a week to read it.
I liked the characters - Mark, buried under bureaucracy in a Toronto psychiatric hospital and Bumi, an Indonesian boy who grows to manhood amongst poverty and deprivation on an isolated island and then a mainland Indonesian city.
After a huge amount of struggle and hardship, Bumi meets Mark in Toronto and events beco
It doesn't take a genius to see that these two men will cross paths, and it's a tribute to Benjamin's talent as a writer that the trek to that point is almost sheer pleasure. Perhaps by necessity, Bumi's tale is far more interesting, and Benjamin pulls off the neat trick of taking a potentially dark tale and never succumbing to despair. Bumi's life is harsh, but the bleakness never overwhelms either Bumi or the reader. Mark's life, likely more familiar to the average North American reader, is mo ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Zoë S. Roy
Drive-by Saviours by Chris Benjamin is a great read. It has two storylines beginning in a small island of Indonesia and a large city of Canada. Bumi, born to a fisherman's family, developed an obsessive compulsive disorder without knowing it. As a murder suspect, he fled to Canada, leaving his wife and children behind. Mark, a social worker in Toronto, lived with his girlfriend and helped with refugee claimants. "Toronto," meaning "meeting place" in Ojibwa, is where Mark encountered Bumi during ...more
Alison DeLory
One of my favourite things about living in Halifax, N.S. is that the writing community is a manageable size and in my experience, overwhelmingly supportive. I do my bit by occasionally reading a book by a local author and that was my main motivation behind purchasing Drive-by Saviours by fellow Haligonian Chris Benjamin. I'd also been following Chris on Twitter (@benjaminwrites) and while we've never met, we've had brief on-line conversations that led me to expect he would be a thoughtful and ar ...more
Bumi lives in Indonesia. Mark lives in Canada. Bumi makes belts for a living. Mark is a social worker. The one thing they seem to have in common is a turbulent upbringing and uncomfortable relations with their families early in life. Their worlds seem far removed from each other, but they end up inextricably linked.[return][return]I came by this book entirely by chance, and the first time I tried to read it, it didnt stick at all. I struggled through the first fifty pages in December, and then j ...more
Drive-By Saviours, the debut novel by Canadian author Chris Benjamin, tells the story of two men from very different backgrounds who meet one day on the subway in Toronto and form a friendship that changes both of their lives forever. One of these men is Bumi, an illegal immigrant from Indonesia, on the run from his troubled past. The other is Mark, a Canadian social worker who is growing increasingly disillusioned with his job. As they get to know each other, Mark learns that Bumi is suffering ...more
Scott Fotheringham
Chris is a friend and we were in a writing group in Halifax together. Reading the novel written by someone you know can be a daunting experience - what if you don't like it? Fortunately, I did like Drive-by Saviours, from the title and beautiful cover, through the characterization, and onto the plot. Being taken to a locale and society that is unknown to me is one of the pleasures of reading. This novel gets the reader into the landscape and social fabric of the protagonist, and into his heart, ...more
When the author finally brought the two stories together, it was more interesting.
Jeff Bursey
More 3 and a half stars, really, for its focus on commerce, social injustice, immigration and oppression. Nice to see someone writing about ideas and concepts more than just creating characters and putting them in situations where these topics arise. That can sometimes come off false. If Chris Benjamin's characters are the weak point, the major concerns, which aren't going to go away soon, are the strong points. Recommended for those looking for engagement with international matters.
The Bumi character is unforgettable.
Mar 05, 2015 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: favourites
Longlisted for Canada Reads and a ReLit Award. A Salty Ink Top Notch Book of the Year.

“…giant storytelling talent unleashed.” –Atlantic Books Today

“…one of the finest first narratives to emerge from Atlantic Canada in recent memory.” –Chronicle Herald

“Benjamin’s depictions of life in Indonesia and Toronto are affectionate, the voices of his characters occasionally joyful and often witty. His characters are humanly flawed, authentic.” -Globe and Mail

Suzan Michet
An excellent first-time novel by Chris Benjamin. I loved the flipping between a life in Toronto (very familiar) and a life in Indonesia (totally foreign). I also appreciated reading for the first time in fiction the 2003 power outage that covered southern ontario, helped me look at it from a different perspective than my own. Looking forward to this author's second book.
There are so many different themes and ideas in this book, from migration to mental illness to development, and although that makes it interesting, it also makes the content a bit overwhelming. I really liked the character of Bumi, but found the character of Mark unsympathetic and somewhat annoying. Overall, I enjoyed this book, but didn't love it.
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Chris Benjamin is a fiction and features writer.

His latest book, Indian School Road: Legacies of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School, won the 2013 Dave Greber Freelance Book Award.

He is also the author of Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada (winner of the 2012 APMA Best Atlantic-Published Book Award & finalist for the 2012 Evelyn Richardson nonfiction prize) and the crit
More about Chris Benjamin...
Indian School Road Eco-Innovators: Sustainability in Atlantic Canada Becoming Fierce: Teen Stories IRL Cuisvé Fierce Shorts Bundle Vol. 5

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