Refugee: A Memoir

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Product Details

$28.00  $26.04
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 0.9 inches | 0.85 pounds

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About the Author

Emmanuel Mbolela is an author, an activist, and a refugee. He was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and studied economics in Mbuji-Mayi. In 2002, he was arrested because of his political engagement. After his release, he was forced to emigrate, embarking on a six-year odyssey through West Africa, the Sahara, and Morocco. In 2008 he received asylum in the Netherlands. He originally published Refugee in German in 2014.

Charlotte Collins translates literary fiction and plays from the German. She was awarded the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize in 2017 for A Whole Life by the Austrian author Robert Seethaler, which was also short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize. Her other translations include Seethaler's The Tobacconist, Homeland by Walter Kempowski, The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells, and Nino Haratischwili's The Eighth Life (cotranslated with Ruth Martin).


[Refugee] connects the dots between neocolonial capitalism, African kleptocracy and wars, and the inhumane treatment of refugees at nearly every step of their arduous journeys . . . Mbolela's matter-of-fact testimony follows the tradition of Rigoberta Menchú, and, rather than offering artistically rendered scenes to tug heartstrings, he depicts the full brunt of the repetitiveness of atrocity . . . His humility fuels this powerful account, and anyone concerned with the plight of refugees owes it to themselves to pick this up. --Publishers Weekly

"Only Emmanuel Mbolela could have written this spectacular debut memoir, which conveys everything the world needs to know about the migration crises in Africa and Europe. Refugee tackles the urgent issues of immigration, human rights, and today's fractured border system, which has become the site of inhumane treatment and horrific crimes against migrants who are fearlessly seeking better lives for themselves and their families. It's a must-read for anyone interested in their stories." --Abdi nor Iftin, author of Call Me American

"Honest, infuriating, and raw, stories like Emmanuel Mbolela's should be compulsory reading. Here is the making of an activist, and a powerful chronicle of the tragedies and systematic deprivations that have become sadly routine for refugees. Recounted so plainly, with so little adornment or self pity, you'll shiver in his place." --Dina Nayeri, author of The Ungrateful Refugee

"What makes Emmanuel Mbolela's book so impressive is that it is not only a courageous and detailed denunciation, it is also a book of ineradicable inextinguishable hope. A book of resistance, of the rebellion of conscience. It is an important weapon in the fight against this racism, which is exhibited by so many Europeans and their state authorities, and exerts criminal, sometimes deadly influence on their policy of rejecting refugees. Mbolela deserves our admiration, and our unqualified, patient, absolute solidarity." --Jean Ziegler, Advisory Committee to the UN Human Rights Council