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Refugee Week Reading Suggestions for Adults

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20 June 2022

Adult Titles

Isabel Allende:  A Long Petal of the Sea 

Victor Dalmau is a young doctor when he is caught up in the Spanish Civil War. Together with his sister-in-law, he is forced out of his beloved Barcelona and into exile. When opportunity to seek refuge in Chile arises, they take it, boarding a ship chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda. There, they find themselves enmeshed in a rich web of characters who come together in love and tragedy over the course of four generations, destined to witness the battle between freedom and repression as it plays out across the world. A masterful work of historical fiction about hope, exile and belonging, A Long Petal of the Sea is Isabel Allende at the height of her powers.

Read Isabel Allende:  A Long Petal of the Sea 

 

Gavin Extence: The End of Time

Beneath the stars, on a stony beach, stand two brothers. They are wearing lifejackets that are too big for them and their most precious belongings are sealed in waterproof bags tucked inside the rucksacks on their backs. Turkey is behind them. Two or three kilometres' swim away is the Greek island of Samos, now only a smudge in the moonlight. Their feet are blistered from walking, their energy is failing. They wade forward into the Aegean Sea and count one, two, three. This is the story of what happens next. This is the story of Mohammed and Zain. Brothers. Sons. Refugees.

Read Gavin Extence: The End of Time

 

Aminatta Forna: Happiness

Waterloo Bridge, London. Two strangers collide. Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist, and Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes. From this chance encounter in the midst of the rush of a great city, numerous moments of connections span out and interweave, bringing disparate lives together. Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma and to check up on the daughter of friends, his 'niece', Ama, who hasn't called home in a while. It soon emerges that she has been swept up in an immigration crackdown - and now her young son Tano is missing. When by chance Attila bumps into Jean again, she joins him in his search for Tano, mobilizing into action the network she has built up, mainly from the many West African immigrants working London's myriad streets, of volunteer fox-spotters: security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens.

Read Aminatta Forna: Happiness

 

Mohsin Hamid: Exit West 

Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing - to fall in love - in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it.Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind - when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world...

Read Mohsin Hamid: Exit West 

 

Khaled Hosseini: Sea Prayer

On a moonlit beach a father cradles his sleeping son as they wait for dawn to break and a boat to arrive. He speaks to his boy of the long summers of his childhood, recalling his grandfather's house in Syria, the stirring of olive trees in the breeze, the bleating of his grandmother's goat, the clanking of her cooking pots. And he remembers, too, the bustling city of Homs with its crowded lanes, its mosque and grand souk, in the days before the sky spat bombs and they had to flee. When the sun rises they and those around them will gather their possessions and embark on a perilous sea journey in search of a new home

Read Khaled Hosseini: Sea Prayer

 

Zeyn Joukhadar: The Map of Salt and Stars

Nour is a young Syrian girl who has lost her father to cancer. Wanting to be close to her relatives, Nour's mother - a cartographer who makes beautiful hand-painted maps - moves her family back to the city of Homs. Nour's father was a real storyteller and he told her that the roots of the trees connect to the ground across the world. She knows they left her father in the ground back in America, so she starts telling him the ancient fable of Rawiya, whispering it into the ground so he might hear. It is this story that gives Nour the courage to keep going when she has to leave Homs after it is bombed and faces a long journey as a refugee in search of a new home.

Read Zeyn Joukhadar: The Map of Salt and Stars

 

Laleh Khadevi: A Good Country

Alireza Courdee, a 14-year-old, straight-A student, takes his first hit of pot. In that moment, he is transformed from the high-achieving son of Iranian immigrants into a happy-go-lucky stoner. He loses his virginity, starts surfing, cuts classes and lies to his father. For the first time, Reza - now Rez - feels like an all-American teen. Then a terror incident shocks the nation. As fears escalate, his newfound friends withdraw and Rez becomes increasingly isolated, an object of suspicion because of his name and skin colour. Now he can only relate to Arash, a fellow Muslim student, and beautiful Fatima, who starts wearing a hijab and going to the local mosque. Little by little, Reza is drawn into a troubling new world.

Read Laleh Khadevi: A Good Country

 

Christy Lefteri: The Beekeeper of Aleppo

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo - until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees. As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls.

Read Christy Lefteri: The Beekeeper of Aleppo

 

Andrea Levy: Small Island

Returning to England after the war Gilbert Joseph is treated very differently now that he is no longer in an RAF uniform. Joined by his wife Hortense, he rekindles a friendship with Queenie who takes in Jamaican lodgers. Can their dreams of a better life in England overcome the prejudice they face?

Read Andrea Levy: Small Island

 

Viet Thanh Nguyen: The Refugees

From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration.

Read Viet Thanh Nguyen: The Refugees

 

Donal Ryan: From a Low and Quiet Sea

Farouk's country has been torn apart by war. Lampy's heart has been laid waste by Chloe. John's past torments him as he nears his end. The refugee. The dreamer. The penitent. From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home. Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.

Read Donal Ryan: From a Low and Quiet Sea

 

Elif Shafak: The Island of Missing Trees

1974, on the island of Cyprus. Two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided land, meet at a tavern in the city they both call home. The tavern is the only place that Kostas, who is Greek and Christian, and Defne, who is Turkish and Muslim, can meet, in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic, chilli peppers and wild herbs.  But there is something else to the place: it makes one forget, even if for just a few hours, the world outside and its immoderate sorrows.  Elif Shafak brings us a rich, magical tale of belonging and identity, love and trauma, memory and amnesia, human-induced destruction of nature, and, finally, renewal.

Read Elif Shafak: The Island of Missing Trees

 

Neema Shah: Kololo Hill

Uganda 1972. A devastating decree is issued: all Ugandan Asians must leave the country in 90 days. They must take only what they can carry, give up their money and never return. For Asha and Pran, married a matter of months, it means abandoning the family business that Pran has worked so hard to save. For his mother, Jaya, it means saying goodbye to the house that has been her home for decades. But violence is escalating in Kampala, and people are disappearing. Will they all make it to safety in Britain and will they be given refuge if they do? And all the while, a terrible secret about the expulsion hangs over them, threatening to tear the family apart.

Read Neema Shah: Kololo Hill