On Refuge

On Refuge
Thursday 20 June 2019, 6.30pm

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To mark Refugee Week and World Refugee Day 2019 Lucy Popescu, editor of A Country to Call Home, presents an evening of readings and discussion on the subject of refuge with
Sita Brahmachari, Christy Lefteri, Dina Nayeri & Alex Preston

Sita Brahmachari writes novels, plays and short stories. She will be reading from and talking about Where The River Runs Gold. ‘Climate refugees’ are already a reality and Sita’s prescient novel imagines a dystopian future where climate change has devastated a country. Bees are extinct and children are forced to work long hours in airless polytunnels pollinating plants and flowers. Shifa and her brother, Themba, escape with another boy and attempt the dangerous journey back to safety. Like many refugee children, they have to survive on their wits and the kindness of strangers. Sita is currently Writer in Residence at Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants and an Amnesty Ambassador.

Christy Lefteri was brought up in London, the daughter of Cypriot refugees. She holds a PhD in creative writing, and teaches creative writing at Brunel University. She will be reading from and talking about The Beekeeper of Aleppo, born out of her time working as a volunteer at a Unicef supported refugee centre in Athens. It describes the flight from war-torn Syria of Nuri and his blind wife Afra. Lefteri explores trauma, broken dreams, love and loss. Bees are a symbol of hope: “Where there are bees, there are flowers, and where there are flowers there is new life...”

Dina Nayeri was born in Iran and moved to America at the age of ten. Her stories and essays have been published in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Granta, the Atlantic and Vice. She is also the author of the novels A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea and Refuge. She will be reading from and talking about The Ungrateful Refugee, her first book of non-fiction. Interwoven with her family’s own experiences are the stories of those less fortunate. Nayeri writes eloquently about the desperate desire to be believed by immigration officers and the struggles of assimilation.

Alex Preston will be reading from and discussing his contribution to Refugee Tales II. He is an author and journalist. His first novel, This Bleeding City, won the Spear’s and Edinburgh Festival first book prizes as well as being chosen as one of Waterstones New Voices. His other books are The Revelations, shortlisted for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize, In Love and War, published to critical acclaim in and selected for BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. He has also published As Kingfishers Catch Fire, a personal anthology of writing about birds and nature.

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