This collection of stories from prominent writers and public figures is a brilliant dissection and exploration of what it means to be a refugees it all of its guises; from Raja who feels like a refugee in his own country following the annexation of Palestine by Israel, to Dina who feels weighed down my the perpetual pressure to be grateful to her hosts irrespective of how she is treated, to the tragic tale of Kemal who is left rootless, both in terms of his place in the world but also in his own society following the Bosnian worms. Indeed the common thread which runs through all of these novels is the sense of rootlessness engendered by becoming a refugee-race, nationality and gender are rendered irrelevant by the irrevocable loss of identity which refugees feel. The second common theme is that no story is ever the same. In the West, there is a tendency to assign refugees which homogeneous labels and identities, when all they are is people who require our support because circumstances outside their control have rendered them powerless. We also have a tendency to homogenise their internal stories, whereby one refugees represents them all, with no real attempt to reflect that they are just individuals, both good and bad, each with their own stories. The feeling which inspires this is fear; after all refugees represent our greatest fear about losing everything important to us and becoming rootless and that we could become so through no fault of our own and at the whim of self-serving state or ignoble dictator, thereby perpetuating the sense of otherness which is so often attributed to refugees.
This collection of stories is important not just because it represents the tragic and often miraculous stories of dislocated refugees from around the world, but also because it engenders a sense of humanity and pathos for the plight of refugees across the world, a pathos which is essential if we wish to continue to give refugees all of the help and support they need and deserve.