2018 Recommended Readings

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FICTION

The King Is Always Above the People by Daniel Alarcón
Migration. Betrayal. Family secrets. Doomed love. Uncertain futures. In Alarcon’s hands, these are transformed into deeply human stories with high stakes.

The Boat People by Sharon Bala
A group of refugees survive a perilous ocean voyage only to face the threat of deportation amid accusations of terrorism .

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck
Richard lives a routine existence until one day he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike. Curiosity turns to compassion as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates. Go, Went, Gone is a scathing indictment of Western policy toward the European refugee crisis, but also a touching portrait of a man who finds he has more in common with the Africans than he realizes.

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera
Makina knows how to survive in a violent, macho world. Leaving behind her life in Mexico to search for her brother, she is smuggled into the U.S. carrying a pair of secret messages – one from her mother and one from the Mexican underworld.

Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish
Preparation for the Next Life evokes the unsettling realities of the American Dream for U.S. immigrants and unsupported veterans in stark, vivid detail. At once a nightmare and a love letter to New York City, Lish’s prose is disciplined yet always alive and taut with danger.

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
The Refugees is a collection of stories written over a period of twenty years exploring questions of immigration, identity, love, and family. Nguyen gives voice to lives led between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth.

Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan
In the United Arab Republic, the majority of the population consists of foreigners brought in to construct the skylines of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This labor force works without the rights of citizenship and, after enforced retirement, is required to leave. Unnikrishnan delves into their histories, myths, struggles and triumphs, and illuminates the ways in which temporary status affects psyches, families, stories and more.

NONFICTION

The Fox Hunt: A Refugee’s Memoir of Coming to America by Mohammed Al Samawi
The Fox Hunt tells one young man’s unforgettable story of war, unlikely friendship, and his harrowing escape from Yemen’s brutal civil war with the help of a daring plan engineered on social media by a small group of interfaith activists in the West.

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming
A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea chronicles the life of Doaa, a Syrian girl whose life was upended in 2011 by the onset of her country’s brutal civil war.

The New Odyssey: The Story of the Twenty-first-Century Refugee Crisis by Patrick Kingsley
The New Odyssey illuminates the shadowy networks that have facilitated the largest forced exodus since the end of WW II. Kingsley traveled through seventeen countries embedding himself alongside the refugees, as he reenacts their flight with hundreds of people across the choppy Mediterranean in the hopes of better understanding who helps or hinders their path to salvation.

Cast Away: True Stories of Survival from Europe’s Refugee Crisis by Charlotte McDonald-Gibson
Cast Away describes the agonizing stories and the impossible decisions that migrants have to make as they head toward what they believe is a better life.

Nujeen: One Girl’s Incredible Journey from War-torn Syria in a Wheelchair by Nujeen Mustafa
Confined to a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy and denied formal schooling in Syria because of her illness, Nujeen taught herself English by watching American soap operas. When her small town became the epicenter of the fight between ISIS and US-backed Kurdish troops, her family was forced to flee. The 16-month odyssey by foot, boat, and bus took her across Turkey and the Mediterranean to Greece, through Macedonia to Serbia and Hungary, and finally, to Germany. In spite of the tremendous physical hardship she endured, Nujeen’s extraordinary optimism never wavered. The 16-month odyssey by foot, boat, and bus took her across Turkey and the Mediterranean to Greece, through Macedonia to Serbia and Hungary, and finally, to Germany. In spite of the tremendous physical hardship she endured, Nujeen’s extraordinary optimism never wavered.

City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence
To the charity workers, Dadaab refugee camp is a humanitarian crisis; to the Kenyan government, it is a ‘nursery for terrorists’; to the western media, it is a dangerous no-go area; but to its half a million residents, it is their last resort

The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives
Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer, called on 17 fellow refugee writers from across the globe to shed light on their experiences, and the result is The Displaced, a powerful dispatch from the individual lives behind current headlines, with proceeds to support the International Rescue Committee (IRC).