** The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri

The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You weaves together a personal memoir of escaping Iran with accounts of other refugees, mostly from Iran, languishing or having languished in various camps, waiting for an acceptance from a host country.

The author’s escape and subsequent resettlement in Oklahoma City, with her Christian-convert mother and her younger brother (her Muslim father stayed in Iran, and eventually remarried) is told eloquently, even if the circumstances are quite different from those of other refugees, especially since her mother was an educated physician with more resources than most. She speaks movingly of the stress of the unknown, of the waiting, of the requirements to adapt to new rules and a new culture.

When it comes to other refugees, it’s more complicated. She makes a great point, similar to what Aayan Hirsi Ali makes, that creating a credible refugee “case” is virtually impossible for people fleeing persecution–and on the other hand the task of those who check the truth of persecution story is arduous. Since opening borders is not politically sustainable, we can’t just admit all who self-declare as refugees, and for that she has no practical suggestions.

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Filed under Non fiction

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