Check Out
The Bestselling Books of All Time
See the List
The ReadDown

Excellent Books to Understand the Refugee Experience

The global community is currently in the midst of a refugee crisis unlike anything seen since WWII. 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 and memoirs touching on the refugee experience.
  1. 1
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads Book Cover Picture
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads Book Cover Picture

    The Girl Who Smiled Beads

    by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

    In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine Wamariya provokes us to look beyond the label of “victim” and recognize the power of the imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries and aftershocks. Devastating yet beautiful, and bracingly original, it is a powerful testament to her commitment to constructing a life on her own terms.
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads Book Cover Picture
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  2. 2
    Sea Prayer Book Cover Picture
    Sea Prayer Book Cover Picture

    Sea Prayer

    by Khaled Hosseini

    A short, powerful, illustrated book written by beloved novelist Khaled Hosseini in response to the current refugee crisis, Sea Prayer is composed in the form of a letter, from a father to his son, on the eve of their journey. Watching over his sleeping son, the father reflects on the dangerous sea-crossing that lies before them. It is also a vivid portrait of their life in Homs, Syria, before the war, and of that city’s swift transformation from a home into a deadly war zone.
    Sea Prayer Book Cover Picture
    Sea Prayer Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  3. 3
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (with bonus content) Book Cover Picture
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (with bonus content) Book Cover Picture

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

    by Michael Chabon

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

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  4. 4
    Call Me American Book Cover Picture
    Call Me American Book Cover Picture

    Call Me American

    by Abdi Nor Iftin

    Abdi Nor Iftin used his language skills to post secret dispatches, which found an audience of worldwide listeners. Eventually, though, Abdi was forced to flee to Kenya. In an amazing stroke of luck, Abdi won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America did not come easily.
    Call Me American Book Cover Picture
    Call Me American Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  5. 5
    Sweetness in the Belly Book Cover Picture
    Sweetness in the Belly Book Cover Picture

    Sweetness in the Belly

    by Camilla Gibb

    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
    Sweetness in the Belly Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  6. 6
    Exit West Book Cover Picture
    Exit West Book Cover Picture

    Exit West

    by Mohsin Hamid

    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
    Exit West Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  7. 7
    Enrique's Journey Book Cover Picture
    Enrique's Journey Book Cover Picture

    Enrique’s Journey

    by Sonia Nazario

    Enrique’s Journey recounts the unforgettable quest of a Honduran boy looking for his mother, eleven years after she is forced to leave her starving family to find work in the United States.
    Enrique's Journey Book Cover Picture
    Enrique's Journey Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  8. 8
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes Book Cover Picture
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes Book Cover Picture

    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes

    by Atia Abawi

    A powerful novel of refugees escaping from war-torn Syria, masterfully told by a journalist who witnessed the crisis firsthand.
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes Book Cover Picture
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  9. 9
    To Stop a Warlord Book Cover Picture
    To Stop a Warlord Book Cover Picture

    To Stop a Warlord

    by Shannon Sedgwick Davis

    One woman’s inspiring true story of an unlikely alliance to stop the atrocities of a warlord, proving that there is no limit to what we can do, even in the face of unspeakable injustice and impossible odds.
    To Stop a Warlord Book Cover Picture
    To Stop a Warlord Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  10. 10
    The Boat People Book Cover Picture
    The Boat People Book Cover Picture

    The Boat People

    by Sharon Bala

    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
    The Boat People Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  11. 11
    The Night Diary Book Cover Picture
    The Night Diary Book Cover Picture

    The Night Diary

    by Veera Hiranandani

    The Night Diary is a poignant, personal, and hopeful tale of India’s partition, and of one girl’s journey to find a new home in a divided country.
    The Night Diary Book Cover Picture
    The Night Diary Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  12. 12
    What Is the What Book Cover Picture
    What Is the What Book Cover Picture

    What Is the What

    by Dave Eggers

    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
    What Is the What Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  13. 13
    In the Sea There Are Crocodiles Book Cover Picture
    In the Sea There Are Crocodiles Book Cover Picture

    In the Sea There Are Crocodiles

    by Fabio Geda

    What would you do if, when you were ten, you were left to fend for yourself, and, in order to survive, you had to undertake a harrowing journey all the way from Afghanistan to Italy? In the Sea There Are Crocodiles brilliantly captures Enaiat’s engaging voice and humor, in what is a truly epic story of hope and survival, for readers of all ages.
    In the Sea There Are Crocodiles Book Cover Picture
    In the Sea There Are Crocodiles Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  14. 14
    The Monk of Mokha Book Cover Picture
    The Monk of Mokha Book Cover Picture

    The Monk of Mokha

    by Dave Eggers

    The Monk of Mokha Book Cover Picture
    The Monk of Mokha Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  15. 15
    Between Shades of Gray Book Cover Picture
    Between Shades of Gray Book Cover Picture

    Between Shades of Gray

    by Ruta Sepetys

    From bestseller and Carnegie Medal winner Ruta Sepetys, author of Salt to the Sea, comes a story of loss and of fear — and ultimately, of survival.
    Between Shades of Gray Book Cover Picture
    Between Shades of Gray Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

  16. 16
    Love Thy Neighbor Book Cover Picture
    Love Thy Neighbor Book Cover Picture

    Love Thy Neighbor

    by Ayaz Virji, M.D. and Alan Eisenstock

    A powerful true story about a Muslim doctor’s service to small-town America and the hope of overcoming our country’s climate of hostility and fear.
    Love Thy Neighbor Book Cover Picture
    Love Thy Neighbor Book Cover Picture

    Buy now from your favorite retailer:

Find other titles in

Related Lists:

Back to Top