The sad thing is, the book is strongly grounded in reality. The Guardian says:
“Mulligan teaches at an international school in Manila which is twinned with a small dumpsite school run by a Christian charity, much like the school featured in Trash.
"All teachers at my school make a visit there and you are confronted with these biblical images," recalls Mulligan. "It's like one of the circles of hell. You are watching seven-year-olds crawling through the rubbish right next to 70-year-olds – and you have in that vision the absolute solid image of what that seven-year-old will become. You just think this can't really be true and you are overwhelmed by your own impotence – there is not a thing I can do about it."
Mulligan's response to that image was to think about what, for these children, a Willy Wonka-style "golden ticket" out of their situation might be. He toyed with the idea of fantasy, of a discovery of an invisibility cloak on the dumpsite, but quickly decided that the object had to be real – and by doing so, he created something far more magical. Keys, codes and doors recur through the novel, which poses the question, as Mulligan puts it, of "what keys do you need when you have nothing, or almost nothing, to start breaking through the barriers that us rich people are so good at constructing around the worlds of the poor?"
Read the rest of The Guardian article here.