The Ungrateful Refugee
What is it like to be a refugee? It is a question many of us do not give much thought, and yet there are more than 25 million refugees in the world. To be a refugee is to grapple with your place in society, attempting to reconcile the life you have known with a new, unfamiliar home. All this while bearing the burden of gratitude in your host nation: the expectation that you should be forever thankful for the space you have been allowed. 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. Now, Nayeri weaves together her own vivid story with those of other asylum seekers in recent years, bringing us inside their daily lives and taking us through the stages of their journeys, from escape to asylum to resettlement.
In these pages, a couple fall in love over the phone, and women gather to prepare the noodles that remind them of home. A closeted queer man tries to make his case truthfully as he seeks asylum, and a translator attempts to help new arrivals present their stories to officials. With surprising and provocative questions, The Ungrateful Refugee recalibrates the conversation around the refugee experience. Here are the real human stories of what it is like to be forced to flee your home, and to journey across borders in the hope of starting afresh.
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About The Ungrateful Refugee:
Finalist for the 2019 Kirkus Prize in Nonfiction
‘Nayeri weaves her empowering personal story with those of the ‘feared swarms’. Her family’s escape from Isfahan to Oklahoma, which involved waiting in Dubai and Italy, is wildly fascinating. Using energetic prose, Nayeri is an excellent conduit for these heart-rending stories, eschewing judgment and employing care in threading the stories in with her own. This is a memoir laced with stimulus and plenty of heart at a time when the latter has grown elusive’, Star Tribune.