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Better Lives: Refugee Stories

This collection of refugee stories is curated by Farzana and Mina, graduates of Open Door Policy, a non-profit that trains and connects qualified, motivated displaced individuals to remote, digital work.
In selecting these titles, Farzana and Mina hope to highlight refugees' struggles in today's world, and their perseverance as they adjust to their new homes. Also, they hope to motivate and inspire refugees out there, in circumstances similar to theirs. Get to know Farzana and Mina in this blog post!
Although certain titles in this curation have sold out, we believe it is meaningful still to include them. This is so Farzana and Mina can raise awareness of sobering, valuable refugee stories, that could otherwise have gone unnoticed!
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36 Results

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Right of Thirst

Condition: Well Read


"Right of Thirst" is a poignant novel that explores the moral dilemma of a man who has lost his purpose in life. Charles journeys to an Islamic country to volunteer as a doctor in a refugee camp. The political tension in the region deepens, and the situation deteriorates quickly. This book is perfect for readers who want to explore the complexities of moral decision-making while experiencing the clash between cultures and the East and the West.
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Shooting Kabul

Condition: Very Good


Recommendation: 'Shooting Kabul' is a heart-warming story about a family's immigration journey to America and their struggle to find their place in a new country. This book is perfect for young readers who want to learn about the ups and downs of immigration, family dynamics, and the power of hope. Readers will appreciate the book's vivid descriptions and relatable characters, and will be moved by the family's struggle to reunite with their loved ones. Overall, 'Shooting Kabul' is a must-read for anyone who loves a good, heartfelt story.
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Parvana's Journey

Condition: Very Good


Parvana's Journey sheds light on the plight and resilience of vulnerable children who struggle every day to survive in war-torn Afghanistan. Deborah Ellis's portrayal of the characters' struggles and hope-filled journeys is heart-wrenching yet informative. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a thought-provoking, character-driven experience that portrays the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

The Bone Sparrow : shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017

Condition: Like New


The Bone Sparrow is a powerful story that highlights the struggles and resilience of refugees. It is a heart-wrenching tale of hope, friendship and the importance of storytelling. Zana Fraillon does a fantastic job of capturing the emotions and experiences of those living in detention centres, and beautifully portrays the unlikely friendship between Subhi and Jimmie in a way that will stay with you long after you finish the book. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand the plight of refugees and the importance of compassion and empathy.
"The Dark Sides of Virtue" is a must-read for those interested in humanitarian work. David Kennedy, drawing from his personal experience, outlines the various issues and consequences that can arise from global humanitarianism. He encourages readers to consider these issues pragmatically, making this book a valuable resource for those wishing to engage in international work that is grounded in a deeper understanding of its complexities."
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Condition: Well Read


"Zenith is a must-read for those who enjoy dystopian fiction with a touch of adventure and hope. Julie Bertagna's ability to create complex characters in a world that is both destroyed and beautiful is truly remarkable. The story follows Mara and her ship of refugees as they search for a new home in a world consumed by the effects of climate change. Along the way, they encounter a floating city and gypsea pirates, bringing both danger and opportunity. Meanwhile, on land, the battle against corrupt forces begins. This book presents an imaginative and thought-provoking depiction of a possible future that is both terrifying and hopeful."
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Kiss the Dust

Condition: Well Read


Kiss the Dust is a powerful novel that depicts the challenges faced by refugees in a war-torn country. Elizabeth Laird has skillfully woven a tale of resilience and hope amidst unimaginable hardships. This book is recommended for readers who enjoy heart-wrenching stories that inspire us to appreciate the strength of the human spirit.
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Pacific Destiny : Rise of the East

Condition: Well Read


Pacific Destiny: Rise of the East is a must-read for those seeking to understand why Asia has become a major economic powerhouse. Robert S. Elegant, a seasoned journalist, provides a nuanced portrayal of Asia's transformation, taking into account political, social, and economic factors. With extensive interviews and years of personal experience, the author provides a unique, insider perspective of Asian societies. Elegant also has a talent for presenting complex ideas in a clear and concise way, making this book accessible to a broad audience.
A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea would be an inspiring read for anyone who wants to understand the human impact of the refugee crisis and the incredible resilience of the human spirit. This true story of Doaa Al Zamel's journey from Syria to Egypt and ultimately to Europe, as well as her harrowing experience of being lost at sea for days with two toddlers, is deeply affecting and will stay with readers long after they finish the last page. Melissa Fleming's gripping and heart-wrenching account of Doaa's story sheds light on the immense challenges faced by refugees and the courage and determination required to overcome them. Readers may appreciate the vividly described human emotions and the vivid portrayal of the refugee crisis that prompts solutions.
For readers of Khaled Hosseini and Chris Cleave, The Boat People is an extraordinary novel about a group of refugees who survive a perilous ocean voyage only to face the threat of deportation amid accusations of terrorismWhen 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.     Told through the alternating perspectives of Mahindan; his lawyer, Priya, a second-generation Sri Lankan Canadian who reluctantly represents the refugees; and Grace, a third-generation Japanese Canadian adjudicator who must decide Mahindan's fate as evidence mounts against him, The Boat People is a spellbinding and timely novel that provokes a deeply compassionate lens through which to view the current refugee crisis.
1970s Afghanistan: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what would happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to an Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.
Before We Visit the Goddess is a must-read for those interested in multi-generational family dramas. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni masterfully captures the complex relationships between mothers and daughters while delving into the different kinds of love that bind us across generations. Readers will be taken on an extraordinary journey, sweeping from the countryside of Bengal to Houston, Texas, and will come away with a deeper understanding of the bonds that make families both united and torn apart.
At the start of the twentieth century, a young girl and her family emigrate from Lithuania in search of a better life in America, only to land on the Emerald Isle instead. In 1958, a mute Jewish boy locked away in a mental institution outside of Dublin forms an unlikely friendship with a man consumed by the story of the love he lost nearly two decades earlier. And in present-day London, an Irish journalist is forced to confront her conflicting notions of identity and family when her Jewish boyfriend asks her to make a true leap of faith. These three arcs, which span generations and intertwine in revelatory ways, come together to tell the haunting story of Ireland’s all-but-forgotten Jewish community. Ruth Gilligan’s beautiful and heartbreaking Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan explores the question of just how far we will go to understand who we really are, and to feel at home in the world.
The Daughters Of Kobani is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the power of women in war and who would like to know more about the women's rights movement in the Middle East. This book offers a unique perspective on the bravery and determination of a group of Kurdish women, and how they went from being a local militia in a small town in Syria to playing a crucial role in the fight against ISIS. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon's brilliant writing and in-depth research make this a fascinating and informative read that will leave you feeling inspired and empowered.
At the front of a middle school classroom in Oklahoma, a boy named Khosrou (whom everyone calls "Daniel") stands, trying to tell a story. His story. But no one believes a word he says. To them he is a dark-skinned, hairy-armed boy with a big butt whose lunch smells funny; who makes things up and talks about poop too much.But Khosrou's stories, stretching back years, and decades, and centuries, are beautiful, and terrifying, from the moment he, his mother, and sister fled Iran in the middle of the night, stretching all the way back to family tales set in the jasmine-scented city of Isfahan, the palaces of semi-ancient kings, and even the land of stories.We bounce between a school bus of kids armed with paper clip missiles and spitballs, to the heroines and heroes of Kosrou's family's past, who ate pastries that made them weep, and touched carpets woven with precious gems.Like Scheherazade in a hostile classroom, author Daniel Nayeri weaves a tale of Khosrou trying to save his own life: to stake his claim to the truth. And it is (a true story).It is Daniel's.
A major new exploration of the refugee crisis, focusing on how borders are formed and policedForty thousand people have died trying to cross between countries in the past decade, and yet international borders only continue to harden. The United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union; the United States elected a president who campaigned on building a wall; while elsewhere, the popularity of right-wing antimigrant nationalist political parties is surging.Reece Jones argues that the West has helped bring about the deaths of countless migrants, as states attempt to contain populations and limit access to resources and opportunities. “We may live in an era of globalization,” he writes, “but much of the world is increasingly focused on limiting the free movement of people.”In Violent Borders, Jones crosses the migrant trails of the world, documenting the billions of dollars spent on border security projects and the dire consequences for countless millions. While the poor are restricted by the lottery of birth to slum dwellings in the ailing decolonized world, the wealthy travel without constraint, exploiting pools of cheap labor and lax environmental regulations. With the growth of borders and resource enclosures, the deaths of migrants in search of a better life are intimately connected to climate change, environmental degradation, and the growth of global wealth inequality.Newly updated with a discussion of Brexit and the Trump administration.
‘This remarkable novel isn’t about the refugee voice; it is born from it and told through it. On every page, the glint of hope for dignity and a better life is heartbreakingly alive.’ Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite RunnerMost novels are written by professional writers using second hand material. Not this one. Peirene commissioned nine refugees to tell their ‘Shatila Stories’. The result is a piece of collaborative fiction unlike any other. If you want to understand the chaos of the Middle East – or you just want to follow the course of a beautiful love story – start here.Adam and his family flee Syria and arrive at the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut. Conditions in this overcrowded Palestinian camp are tough, and violence defines many of the relationships: a father fights to save his daughter, a gang leader plots to expand his influence, and drugs break up a family. Adam struggles to make sense of his refugee experience, but then he meets Shatha and starts to view the camp through her eyes.Why Peirene chose to commission this book:‘I want to hear their stories and see if their imaginations can open up a new path of understanding between us. Collaborative works of literature can achieve what no other literature can do. By pooling our imaginations we are able to access something totally different and new that goes beyond boundaries – that of the individual, of nations, of cultures. It connects us to our common human essence: our creativity. Let’s make stories, not more war.’ Meike Ziervogel
Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.
The Ardent Swarm is a captivating novel that skillfully weaves together themes of personal loss, political turmoil, and ecological disaster in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The main character Sidi's dedication to saving his bees is remarkable, and his journey to uncover the mystery behind the hornets' attack keeps readers on edge until the very end. The author's use of humor and drama in portraying the post-revolutionary reality of Tunisia is remarkable, and provides a unique perspective on a country often overlooked in Western media. For anyone interested in exploring the complexity of North African politics, The Ardent Swarm is a must-read.
The Book of Fate is a powerful portrayal of the life of a young girl in pre-revolutionary Iran who fights for her right to love and education. It offers a rare glimpse into Iranian society, as seen through the eyes of a woman who lived through the country's turbulent recent history. Readers looking for a gripping narrative and an insider perspective on Iran will find this book particularly engaging.
This book is a harrowing and poignant memoir that offers a firsthand account of Yeonmi Park's escape from North Korea's oppressive regime. Through her powerful storytelling, she takes readers on an emotional journey, showcasing the resilience and indomitable spirit of the human soul. Her escape through China's underworld and the Gobi desert to find freedom is both heart-wrenching and inspiring. A must-read for anyone interested in human rights, survival, and the strength of the human spirit.
"A Thousand Splendid Suns" is a powerful and heartbreaking portrayal of the impact of war on women in Afghanistan. As Mariam and Laila's friendship develops, readers are drawn into their emotional struggles and feel the weight of their sacrifices and courage. Hosseini's writing blends history, human emotion, and storytelling to create a poignant and unforgettable novel that will leave readers thinking long after the final page. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction and books that focus on the strength of human relationships.
Paperback. English Simon & Schuster Ltd How do you do the right thing when there are only bad choices to be made A neutral capital straddling Europe and Asia. Istanbul survived WW2 as a magnet for refugees and spies. trafficking in secrets and lies rather than soldiers. Expatriate American businessman Leon Bauer was drawn into this shadow world. doing undercover odd jobs and courier runs in support of the Allied war effort. Now as the espionage community begins to pack up and an apprehensive city prepares for the grim realities of postwar life. Leon is given one last routine assignment. But when the job goes fatally wrong-an exchange of gunfire. a body left in the street. and a potential war criminal in his hands-Leon is plunged into a nightmarish tangle of intrigue . shifting loyalties and moral uncertainty. Rich with atmosphere and period detail. Istan...
The book offers a harrowing account of three women's lives intertwined amidst the civil war in Somalia. It paints an immersive portrait of everyday trials and tribulations in war-torn Somalia, depicting the courage and resilience of ordinary people in extraordinary times. It is a poignant tale of struggle, love, and hope in the face of unspeakable atrocities. Highly recommended for readers interested in historical fiction and stories of resilience in the face of adversity.
Human Cargo could be a good read for someone who wants to explore and better understand the current refugee crisis and the experiences of displaced people around the world. Caroline Moorehead writes in an empathetic and engaging style that helps the reader connect with the stories of ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances. The book does an excellent job of looking at the refugee crisis from multiple angles - from the perspectives of refugees themselves, as well as government officials and aid workers - and offering historical context to current issues. Overall, Human Cargo is both a sobering and inspiring read that will leave readers with a greater appreciation for the courage and resilience of refugees.
This book offers a unique perspective on daily life under the Milosevic regime and in post-Milosevic Serbia. It focuses on the individual stories of Serbs from various walks of life, giving readers a glimpse into the complex hopes, dreams, and viewpoints of a nation in transition. If you're interested in understanding the human impact of political turmoil, this book is for you.
Mayada: Daughter of Iraq is a powerful memoir that details the life of a privileged Iraqi woman who finds herself in a notorious prison, falsely accused of printing anti-government propaganda. The book offers a unique perspective on the terror and horror brought by Saddam Hussein's regime upon the lives and souls of ordinary citizens. This book would be a great read for those interested in memoirs, stories of survival, and the power of sisterhood in the face of adversity.
This book is a must-read for those who want to better understand the refugee experience through the perspective of a young child. The journey of Tiger and his family is depicted in a nuanced and delicate manner, highlighting the struggles and the hope that come with being a refugee. The unique feature of this book is the use of a fish as a symbol of survival, providing a poignant and heartwarming perspective on the human desire to keep hope alive in times of crisis.
The Seasons of Trouble is a vivid and heart-wrenching account of the devastating effects of war on ordinary citizens. Through the personal stories of Sarva, Indra, and Mugil, the reader gains a deeper understanding of the complexities and turmoil of Sri Lanka's civil war. This book is highly recommended for those interested in gaining insight into the impact of conflict on individuals, families, and communities. Rohini Mohan's writing is both honest and empathetic, offering a raw and nuanced view of life amid the ruins of war.