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Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Pulitzer Prize–winningauthor and refugee himself, has brought together a powerful collection of essays from writers with a myriad of immigrant experiences. Twenty pieces explore the complexities of leaving, of arriving, and of the barriers both seen and unseen that exist far beyond the actual crossing. Reyna Grande, Joseph Azam, Fatima Bhutto, Vu Tran—their stories demand that we see the refugee crisis for what it is, the real lives of so many affected, persevering and thriving in spite of it.
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.
“One of the Ten Best Books of the Year”
— Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"The book is being published at a time when discourse around refugees has shifted distressingly in the Trump era, with new caps on refugee settlement being instituted and immigration bans remaining clear policy positions.”
— Entertainment Weekly
“In this collection of 17 essays (one consisting of cartoons) by writers who were forced to leave their homes, Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Pulitzer-winning novelist and himself a Vietnamese refugee to America, begins to assemble one. In so doing he gives ordinary Westerners a heart-wrenching insight into the uprooted lives led in their midst…the collection succeeds in demonstrating that this dispersed community in some ways resembles other nations. It has its founding myths, but its citizens all have their own tragedies, victories and pain—and each has a story to tell.”
— The Economist
“…an incisive and heartbreaking exploration of the refugee crisis…”
“With more than a dozen essays on refugees from writers throughout the world, the collection — edited by Nguyen — attempts a vital task: to give voice to the oft-silenced and to redirect the current stream of anti-refugee rhetoric and sentiment in a more just and humanizing direction. The end result is an accessible and engaging dialogue that mines memories, many of them traumatic, and delivers on its global message of displacement and loss... it goes without saying that Nguyen’s collection, with its unapologetic repositioning of the refugee front and center, couldn’t have arrived at a more critical time.”
— The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Together, the stories share similar threads of loss and adjustment, of the confusion of identity, of wounds that heal and those that don’t, of the scars that remain.“
— The San Francisco Chronicle
“This heartrending, thought-provoking collection of essays humanizes the refugee experience, describing harrowing escapes, economically driven evacuations, and wartime disasters.”
— School Library Journal
“This heartbreaking collection of essays humanizes the refugee experience…"
— Library Journal
“Powerful and deeply moving personal stories about the physical and emotional toll one endures when forced out of one’s homeland.”
— PBS Online
“Poignant and timely, these essays ask us to live with our eyes wide open during a time of geo-political crisis. Also, 10% of the cover price of the book will be donated annually to the International Rescue Committee, so I hope readers will help support this book and the vast range of voices that fill its pages.”
— Electric Literature
“Nguyen and 17 other writers share their own experiences with displacement and immigration, and their… stories remind us why every culture needs newcomers.”
— The Week
“Each essay is worthwhile.”
— Literary Hub
“In a decade characterized by massive global displacement that seems likely to grow worse, this collection is both a reminder of the lives altered or destroyed by geopolitical happenings, and a gesture of aid.”
— The Millions
“The essays are consistently both eloquent and riveting.”
— World Literature Today