The stories of refugees who fled violence or persecution only to become trapped in the worst refugee camps in Europe.
Helen Benedict, award-winning British-American professor of journalism at Columbia University, teams up with Syrian writer and refugee, Eyad Awwadawnan, to present the stories of five refugees who have endured long and dangerous journeys from the Middle East and Africa to Greece.
Hasan, Asmahan, Evans, Mursal and Calvin each tell their story, tracing the trajectory of their lives from homes and families in Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Cameroon to the brutal refugee camps, where they are trapped in a strange and hostile world.
These are compelling, first-person stories of resilience, suffering and hope, told in a depth rarely seen in non-fiction, partly because one of the authors is a refugee himself, and partly because both authors spent years getting to know the interviewees and winning their trust. The women and men in this book tell their stories in their own words, retaining control and dignity, while revealing intimate and heartfelt scenes from their lives.
Helen Benedict is a recipient of the 2021 PEN Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History and the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism. She is the author of 13 books, including the award-winning The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women at War Serving in Iraq, and the novel Wolf Season. Her writing inspired both a class action suit against the Pentagon on behalf of people sexually assaulted in the military and the 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary, The Invisible War. She is a Professor of Journalism at Columbia University, New York.
Eyad Awwadawnan, formerly a law student from Damascus, Syria, is a writer and poet currently living as an asylum-seeker in Reykjavik, Iceland. During his four years in Greece, he worked as a cultural mediator, translator and interpreter for various NGOs.
"Heartfelt, eye-opening, timely, essential: these stories remind us of the plight of refugees, people just like us, who are desperate to build new lives for themselves and their loved ones."
– Christy Lefteri, bestselling author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo
"Simple, powerful stories told in refugees' own voices. I couldn't stop reading, hand to mouth, my chest tightening. A vital collaboration between two sharply observant writers who know how to get out of the way."