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The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives (Paperback)
***A 2020 CLSC SELECTION***
Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sympathizer Viet Thanh Nguyen called on 17 fellow refugee writers from across the globe to shed light on their experiences, and the result is The Displaced, a powerful dispatch from the individual lives behind current headlines, with proceeds to support the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Today the world faces an enormous refugee crisis: 68.5 million people fleeing persecution and conflict from Myanmar to South Sudan and Syria, a figure worse than flight of Jewish and other Europeans during World War II and beyond anything the world has seen in this generation. Yet in the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries with the means to welcome refugees, anti-immigration politics and fear seem poised to shut the door. Even for readers seeking to help, the sheer scale of the problem renders the experience of refugees hard to comprehend.
Viet Nguyen, called “one of our great chroniclers of displacement” (Joyce Carol Oates, The New Yorker), brings together writers originally from Mexico, Bosnia, Iran, Afghanistan, Soviet Ukraine, Hungary, Chile, Ethiopia, and others to make their stories heard. They are formidable in their own right—MacArthur Genius grant recipients, National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalists, filmmakers, speakers, lawyers, professors, and New Yorker contributors—and they are all refugees, many as children arriving in London and Toronto, Oklahoma and Minnesota, South Africa and Germany. Their 17 contributions are as diverse as their own lives have been, and yet hold just as many themes in common.
Reyna Grande questions the line between “official” refugee and “illegal” immigrant, chronicling the disintegration of the family forced to leave her behind; Fatima Bhutto visits Alejandro Iñárritu’s virtual reality border crossing installation “Flesh and Sand”; Aleksandar Hemon recounts a gay Bosnian’s answer to his question, “How did you get here?”; Thi Bui offers two uniquely striking graphic panels; David Bezmozgis writes about uncovering new details about his past and attending a hearing for a new refugee; and Hmong writer Kao Kalia Yang recalls the courage of children in a camp in Thailand.
These essays reveal moments of uncertainty, resilience in the face of trauma, and a reimagining of identity, forming a compelling look at what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of refuge. The Displaced is also a commitment: ABRAMS will donate 10 percent of the cover price of this book, a minimum of $25,000 annually, to the International Rescue Committee, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian aid, relief, and resettlement to refugees and other victims of oppression or violent conflict.
List of Contributors:
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
Kao Kalia Yang
About the Author
Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam in 1971. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, he and his family fled to the United States. The author of three books, Nguyen is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at University of Southern California. He lives in Los Angeles.
Thi Bui was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States as a child. She studied art and legal studies and at one point wanted to be a civil rights lawyer, but became a public school teacher instead. She lives in Berkeley with her son, her husband, and her mother. The Best We Could Do is her debut graphic novel.
“… “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives” seeks to give voice to the experience of being forced to leave one place and seek a home elsewhere, and challenge the political identity given to refugees by virtue of being unwanted.”
— Bay Area News Group
“With tens of millions of people fleeing persecution and conflict today as refugees, according to the United Nations, these voices and stories are more timely than ever.”
— NBC News online
“There is no single refugee story, and as the editor of The Displaced, a collection of refugee writers exploring and reflecting on their experiences, Viet Thanh Nguyen gives these stories room to breath and unfurl.”
— The Millions