Lost Children Archive
In this novel that is sure to be considered by literary prize juries, Valeria Luiselli writes of a road trip that takes a mother, a father, and a son and daughter from Boston down to America’s borderlands. They are searching for Apacheria, the land the Apaches once called home. But on the radio, they learn that they are driving closer to an “immigration crisis.” In a remarkable literary feat, Luiselli weaves together the perspectives of the occupants of the car along with material that infuses the story with almost-magical qualities. Found objects cause the story to pivot as characters integrate the objects’ stories into their own. The effects are wondrous.
Girl at War
Ana Jurić is your average ten-year-old in 1991, living in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, which emerged as a country as Yugoslavia broke up. Ethnic Serbs within Croatia created violent conflict in an effort to break away; the resulting war led to the death of thousands. Ana’s family is pulled into the violence with tragic results. Years later, Ana is asked to testify in front of the United Nations about the horrific war crimes that she witnessed, and in telling her story, she reveals the actions she was driven to take in order to survive.
The Girl Who Smiled Beads
Clemantine lived with her parents and sister in Rwanda. Clemantine passed her days playing with friends and attending her neighborhood school or sitting in her mother’s beautiful garden. But in April of 1994, Rwanda descended into chaos as Tutsis were slaughtered by their Hutu neighbors. In 100 days, 800,000 Rwandans were killed. Clemantine fled with her teenaged sister to a series of refugee camps before being brought to the United States. In her memoir, Clemantine recounts the struggle to survive during the killing, and what life was like in refugee camps. When she was a teenager, an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show brought further life-altering changes into her remarkable life.
Aleksander Hemon’s hometown of Sarajevo put on a marvelous show when it hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics. But eight years later, Sarajevo would become the center of the vicious war that raged in the former Yugoslavia. In his novel that bears similarities to Hemon’s own experiences, the “nowhere man” is Jozef, who is visiting Chicago when war breaks out and makes it impossible for him to go home. He’s not really a refugee because he didn’t flee Bosnia and Herzegovina, but neither can he return home with his city under siege. What results is a comic novel about the categories we assign to people based on circumstances over which they have no control.
The Unwinding of the Miracle
“Hello, welcome,” Julie Yip-Williams’ memoir begins. Life began for Yip-Williams in Vietnam. She was born blind, and during the aftershocks of the end of the Vietnam War, she was forced to flee as a young child aboard a boat that was barely seaworthy. When she landed in America, a surgeon restored part of her sight. She attended Harvard, became an attorney, married, had children. And then, while still a young woman, she was told that she had terminal metastatic colon cancer. It is hard to describe the impact of reading this remarkable memoir, so rather than try, we urge you to read it for yourselves.
Notes on a Shipwreck
The International Organization for Migration reported that as of January 15, sixteen migrants had died in the month of January while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. The people on the unseaworthy boats are refugees from various conflicts on the African continent or have been forced to leave their farms because climate change has made their land non-arable. Davide Enia spent time on the island of Lampedusa, off the coast of Italy, whose residents attempt to take care of those shipwrecked and in need of care. Enia shows how people react when stretched to their limits.
While Americans are aware of the events in Rwanda, many of them are unaware of what happened in neighboring Burundi, where a civil war that began in 1992 left 300,000 dead. Gabriel is a ten-year-old boy in 1992, and his days are filled with the normal playtime activities of boys. Readers will experience the days of war through his eyes, as Gabriel acts as witness to the ways that the adults around him have their lives irrevocably changed by brutal conflict.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (with bonus content)
Michael Chabon won the Pulitzer Prize for this fabulous novel that details the adventures of two Brooklyn boys. One of them — Joe Kavalier — arrives as a Jewish refugee from 1930s Germany. He and his cousin construct a world where, despite being too young to join up, they fight Hitler and the Nazis. The comic book they create becomes an enormous success, and Chabon follows the story of their hero, Escapist, as he becomes a hero to a generation living in the Golden Age of Comics. You do not have to be a fan of comic books to become enthralled by Chabon’s evocation of America in the 1940s and 1950s.
How I Became a North Korean
In a desolate place in North Korea, Yongju, Jangmi stare back across a narrow river that separates them from China. Life in North Korea puts Yongju and Jangmi at the mercy of the country’s leader, whose tantrums and whims may result in instant death for the general or a servant who has offended him. In the small Chinese town, Danny, a kid from California, contemplates leaving behind everything he has ever known to remain in the China of his ancestors. In Lee’s compelling prose, readers will learn of life in a country that few outside it know anything about.
Dan-el Padilla Peralta
Young Dan came to America from the Dominican Republic on a legal visa. When serious illness struck his family, their visas lapsed, and Dan grew up in New York City while his mother struggled to support her children. But Dan was passionate about books, and in a story that reads like a fairy tale, he was given the chance to partake of a first-class education that led him to Princeton. In his memoir, Dan El-Padilla Peralta shows readers how it feels to live as an undocumented immigrant, but also how motivated he was to become a model citizen and to live the American dream.
The Last Girl
Nadia Murad was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for her work as an anti-rape activist. She was a young woman when Islamic State militants invaded her village and slaughtered many of its men and women. The younger women, including Murad, were kidnapped and forced into enslavement, where she was raped and beaten. In a remarkable tale, Murad narrates her escape through the streets of Mosul, and how she found shelter with a Sunni family that hid her. This powerful memoir attests to Nadia Murad’s strength of character and her passionate advocacy to end rape.
Nuruddin Farah writes stunning novels about the Somalian diaspora, the stories of Somalis who have been forced to leave their anarchic country where decades of civil war have destroyed its government infrastructure. In these three novels — Links, Knots, and Crossbones — Farah narrates the lives of characters who are compelled to leave Somalia or to return to it in search of missing family members, or to escape families who do not recognize their daughters’ humanities, or to find a part of their childhood that may still exist. Farah writes prose that compels readers to continue reading as they follow him down ancient alleyways in search of the past.
The Far Away Brothers
It is difficult to imagine the experience of just one family when contemplating the current immigration debate in America. In The Far Away Brothers, Markham details the stories of young brothers from Mexico who sought to join their older brother in the United States. Markham introduces readers to the boys’ families and communities, and also details the legal maneuvers used in the immigration courts to prevent a family reunion. Markham provides a thoroughly researched account that looks at the immigration debate by focusing on its impact on one family.
No Human Is Illegal
J. J. Mulligan Sepulveda
J. J. Mulligan Sepúlveda has worked as an immigration lawyer for a long time, and he has written a book to document his experiences for readers hungry for information. As he explains in the introduction, the intensity of his work has increased in the past two years as new restrictions and changes in immigration policy have created a number of issues that must now be settled before judges. As the son of a Chilean immigrant who fled political repression at home, Mulligan Sepúlveda brings to this account a broad range of information designed to help readers understand the immigration issues currently in the news.
The German narrator of Seghers’ 1937 novel escapes from a concentration camp. The narrator has been given a special task: he is to deliver a letter to a man named Seidel in Paris. But he discovers that Seidel has committed suicide. Assuming Seidel’s identity, he makes his way Marseille, France. Marseille was the port city where many German refugees waited for transit to other nations where they might begin their lives over. There, “Seidel” hears their stories of the lives left behind. Anna Seghers challenges readers with the various ethical quandaries that she places before the ersatz Seidel. A fascinating view of the refugee story before World War II.
What would drive someone to abandon their home, their friends, and their country to seek shelter elsewhere? What is it like to live in a refugee camp, or to seek safety when it is just too dangerous to stay home? In these books, writers narrate stories that capture the diverse experiences of refugees who were displaced by World War II to those who, even today, await decisions by governments about their future. Their stories come from the former Yugoslavia, from Rwanda, from North Korea, from Burundi, from Central America, the Middle East, and from little known areas of the world where conflict or climate change have made life impossible. And while these refugee stories tell tales of horror and of war, they also acquaint readers with tremendous acts of compassion and the beauty of a life that has been re-established in a new home. We invite you to partake of these remarkable novels and memoirs.