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Books & Authors, Diverse Voices

World Refugee Day 2024

 The United Nations designated June 20 as World Refugee Day, an international day to honor people who have been forced out of their homes by conflict or persecution. Check out these books to learn more about refugees’ lives around the world.

A Map of Future Ruins: On Borders and Belonging by Lauren Markham
A provocative, virtuosic inquiry that reveals how the valorization of times and migrations past are intimately linked to our exclusion and demonization of migrants in the present. When and how did migration become a crime? How have our personal migration myths -and our nostalgia for a lost world of clear borders and values - shaped our troubling new realities? In this mesmerizing, trailblazing synthesis of reporting, history, memoir, and essay, A Map of Future Ruins makes us realize that the stories we tell about migration don't just explain what happened. They are oracles: they predict the future.

City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence
A researcher for Human Rights Watch describes the refugee camp in Dabaab, home to those fleeing civil war in Somalia, and highlights the life of various residents, including a former child soldier, a schoolgirl and a youth leader.

Dance or Die: From Stateless Refugee to International Ballet Star: A Memoir by Ahmad Joudeh
The memoir of a stateless man who grew up in a refugee camp in Syria and overcame family opposition, the horrors of war, and death threats to achieve his dream of becoming an international ballet star.

Hakim's Odyssey. Book 1, From Syria to Turkey by Fabien Toulmé
An account, in graphic novel format, of a young Syrian refugee and how war forced him to leave everything behind, including his family, his friends, his home, and his business. This narrative follows his travels from Syria, to Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

In the Shadow of Liberty: The Invisible History of Immigrant Detention in the United States by Ana Raquel Minian
A probing work of narrative history that reveals the hidden story of immigrant detention in the United States, deepening urgent national conversations around migration. Braiding together the vivid stories of four migrants seeking to escape the turmoil of their homelands for the promise of America, In the Shadow of Liberty gives this history a human face, telling the dramatic story of Central American asylum seeker, a Cuban exile, a European war bride, and a Chinese refugee. Through these narratives, we see how the changing political climate surrounding immigration has played out in individual lives, and at what cost. But as these stories demonstrate, it doesn't have to be like this, and a better way might be possible.

Learning America: One Woman's Fight for Educational Justice for Refugee Children by Luma Mufleh
Learning America traces the story of how Luma Mufleh--a Muslim, gay, refugee woman from hyper-conservative Jordan--grew a group of kids into a soccer team and then into a nationally acclaimed network of schools for refugee children.

Refugee Tales. Volume III by David Herd and Anna Pincus
Telling the true stories of asylum seekers who've suffered at the hands of Britain's policy of indefinite detention, in the form of a modern-day Canterbury Tales.

Slow Noodles: A Cambodian Memoir of Love, Loss, and Family Recipes by Chantha Nguon
Chantha Nguon recounts her life as a Cambodia refugee who lost everything and everyone--her house her country, her parents, her siblings, her friends--everything but the memories of her mother's kitchen, the tastes and aromas of the foods her mother made before the dictator Pol Pot tore her country apart.

Solito : A Memoir by Javier Zamora
Trip. My parents started using that word about a year ago--'one day, you'll take a trip to be with us. Like an adventure.' Javier's adventure is a three-thousand-mile journey from his small town in El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the U.S. border. He will leave behind his beloved aunt and grandparents to reunite with a mother who left four years ago and a father he barely remembers. Javier's trip is supposed to last two short weeks. At nine years old, all Javier can imagine is rushing into his parents' arms, snuggling in bed between them, and living under the same roof again. He cannot foresee the boat trips, relentless desert treks, pointed guns, arrests and deceptions that await him, nor can he know that those two weeks will expand into two life-altering months alongside a group of strangers who will come to encircle him like an unexpected family.

The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen, himself a refugee, brings together a host of prominent refugee writers from around the world to explore and illuminate their experiences. Poignant and insightful, this collection of essays reveals moments of uncertainty, resilience int he face of trauma, and a reimagining of identity. The Displaced is a powerful look at what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of refuge.

The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You by Dina Nayeri
Aged eight, Dina Nayeri fled Iran along with her mother and brother and lived in the crumbling shell of an Italian hotel-turned-refugee-camp. Eventually she was granted asylum in America. She settled in Oklahoma, then made her way to Princeton University. In this book, Nayeri weaves together her own vivid story with the stories of other refugees and asylum seekers in recent years. With surprising and provocative questions, The Ungrateful Refugee challenges us to rethink how we talk about the refugee crisis.

Those We Throw Away Are Diamonds: A Refugee's Search for Home by Mondiant Dogon
One night when Mondiant Dogon, a Bagogwe Tutsi born in Congo, was very young, his father's lifelong friend, a Hutu man, came to their home with a machete in his hand and warned the family they were to be killed within hours. Dogon's family fled into the bush, where they began a long and dangerous journey into Rwanda. Since that day when he was just three years old, Dogon has called himself a forever refugee. Eventually, Dogon came to the US and became an advocate for his people. He is the self-described global ambassador for the Bagogwe Tutsi, who has also lent his voice to the plight of forever refugees everywhere. In THOSE WE THROW AWAY ARE DIAMONDS, written with New Yorker contributor Jenna Krajeski, he shares his incredible and moving story of survival to bring home the global refugee crisis.


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