Speed Reading - Three books for Refugee Week

As a child, Iranian-born Dina Nayeri found sanctuary in the West. The Ungrateful Refugee (Canongate, £16.99; Tablet price £15.30) examines what it means to leave one’s homeland and become a refugee. 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. The right to seek asylum is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so Nayeri questions why refugees have obsessively to prove their worth and gratitude to the rich nations that reluctantly take them in.

Lost Children Archive (Fourth Estate, £16.99; Tablet price £15.30) highlights the appal­ling treatment of unaccom­panied Latin American children arriving on the United States border, many of whom are flee­ing poverty or drug gangs. The title refers to those who “have lost the right to a childhood” and those who simply disappear. If they don’t die in the desert, they are detained and deported. Valeria Luiselli’s novel draws urgent parallels between the children free to travel south, and the brutal system that refuses to allow the vulnerable to join their families in the north.

After volunteering in a refugee centre in Athens, Christy Lefteri was inspired to write her poignant novel as a way of sharing some of the stories she heard there. The Beekeeper of Aleppo (Zaffre, £12.99; Tablet price £11.70) 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 and hope.”

Originally published by The Tablet