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Excellent Books to Understand the Refugee Experience

The global community is currently in the midst of a refugee crisis unlike anything seen since WWII. The Syrian Civil War has displaced millions, forcing nearly five million civilians to flee the war-torn country and leaving millions more adrift within its border. The refugee experience is a well-documented and often heartbreaking one. Given the ongoing crisis and the prevalence of refugees as part of an ongoing national conversation – and the need for more compassion and empathy than ever – we’ve pulled together novels touching on the refugee experience to offer you more insight and understanding.
  1. 1

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, the Pulitzer Prize winner from Michael Chabon, centers on two cousins: Joe Kavalier, a Czech refugee and artist fleeing Prague, and Sammy Clay, a Brooklyn-born writer. The at-times-rollicking-yet-profound novel follows the meteoric rise Kavalier and Clay in the world of the Golden Age comic book boom. It is at turns surprising, heartfelt, and thrilling.

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (with bonus content) Book Cover Picture
  2. 2

    Sweetness in the Belly

    Sweetness in the Belly tells the story of Lilly, orphaned at the age of eight in Morocco after the murder of her British parents. Taken in and raised in a Sufi shrine, Lilly eventually makes her way to Ethiopia before being forced to flee to London as a refugee. It is a poignant examination of an outside search for home.

    Sweetness in the Belly Book Cover Picture
  3. 3

    Exit West

    One of the most anticipated books of 2017, Mohsin Hamed’s novel of the strife created by the Syrian Civil War is told through the lens of the love affair of young Nadia and Saeed. The pair find one another as their country teeters toward violent conflict and explosive unrest climbs to a terrifying fever pitch, forcing the couple to flee for survival.

    Exit West Book Cover Picture
  4. 4

    The Boat People

    When a rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees from Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war reaches Vancouver’s shores, the young father thinks he and his six-year-old son can finally start a new life. Instead, the group is thrown into a detention processing center, with government officials and news headlines speculating that among the “boat people” are members of a separatist militant organization responsible for countless suicide attacks—and that these terrorists now pose a threat to Canada’s national security. As the refugees become subject to heavy interrogation, Mahindan begins to fear that a desperate act taken in Sri Lanka to fund their escape may now jeopardize his and his son’s chance for asylum.

    The Boat People Book Cover Picture
  5. 5

    What Is the What

    What Is the What is the epic novel based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng who, along with thousands of other children —the so-called Lost Boys—was forced to leave his village in Sudan at the age of seven and trek hundreds of miles by foot, pursued by militias, government bombers, and wild animals, crossing the deserts of three countries to find freedom. When he finally is resettled in the United States, he finds a life full of promise, but also heartache and myriad new challenges. Moving, suspenseful, and unexpectedly funny, What Is the What is an astonishing novel that illuminates the lives of millions through one extraordinary man.

    What Is the What Book Cover Picture
  6. 6

    The Monk of Mokha

    The Monk of Mokha Book Cover Picture

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