Who Gets Believed?: When the Truth Isn’t Enough

Catapult. Mar. 2023. 304p. retold by . ISBN 9781646220724. $27. SOC SCI
This genre-defying book investigates the basic foundations of a good story, demonstrating how people’s lives are not only defined but also decided by the stories they tell. Beginning with the question of what makes something believable, former refugee Nayeri (The Ungrateful Refugee) leads readers through a series of narratives that reveal the fraught relationship between truth and believability, and she shows the premium people place on belief. This book combines deep research into the arcane workings of the asylum process with personal observations about religion, literature, cinema, and family life. Nayeri draws on interrogation videos and transcripts, thousands of pages of legal filings, numerous interviews, conversations, and her personal life to bring believability into view, but her greatest achievement is in filtering everything through her distinct voice, articulating her doubts, worries, compassion, anger, frustrations, and loves with bracing honesty. Few books are as erudite, comprehensive, and intensely personal all at once.
VERDICT This is a riveting read that will be of interest to many, from those concerned with the plight of refugees and the biases built into many American institutions to anyone who loves unconventional memoirs and beautiful writing.
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