SOCIAL SCIENCES

Somewhere in the Unknown World: A Collective Refugee Memoir

Metropolitan. Oct. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9781250296856. pap. $17.99. SOC SCI
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Yang (What God Is Honored Here?) gathers a collection centering on the experiences of refugees living in Minnesota, and mostly residing in the Twin Cities. The contributors have a vast range of traumatic experiences exiting their home countries and finding asylum in the United States. The first section focuses on refugees who immigrated as children; food is often the most visceral memory of one’s home country, with ingredients and scents evocatively recalled. Many details are heart-rending, including the decision for Shia children to be homeschooled owing to facing harassment in the wake of 9/11. The Twin Cities has the largest concentration of Hmong refugees in the world, and many writers recalled swimming across the Mekong River at night to slip into the refugee camps in Thailand. Fong Lee, a Laotian immigrant, is haunted by the memory of being unable to help two sisters who stood on the shore of Laos, receding in view as he and his family crammed onto a raft.
VERDICT This title joins a growing body of vital refugee literature, including Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Displaced and Dina Nayeri’s The Ungrateful Refugee.

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