On Friday, Donald Trump signed an executive order restricting immigrants, refugees, and green card holders from seven Middle Eastern countries from entering the U.S. In order to understand who is impacted, and how and why, you should read books by authors from the countries affected by Trump's immigration order. I've got seven suggestions for you below, so let's dive in.
Since Trump signed his immigration order on Jan. 27, reports of its global disruption have poured in. Around 1 million Iranian-Americans and their countless relatives are not cut off from each other. Celebrities have been forced to cancel appearances at the Academy Awards, including the cast and crew of The Salesman, which was nominated for Best Foreign Picture. An Iraqi woman traveling to the U.S. for medical treatment died hours after the immigration order prevented her from boarding a flight. On this side of the Atlantic, at least two North American mosques have been attacked in the days since Trump signed his order, and his supporters have used misinformation about one of the attacks to support the idea of barring Muslims from entering the country.
Now, more than ever, it is important that we listen to and amplify Muslim voices. We can counter Islamophobia through stories, and we can promote the work of Muslim writers. Here are seven books that you must read by authors from the countries affected by Trump's immigration order.
1‘The Complete Persepolis’ by Marjane Satrapi
Marjane Satrapi was just a little girl when her liberal, secular parents began to encourage her to act pious, wear the veil, and not talk about her family members' adventures. This graphic memoir about growing up during the Iranian Revolution is a must-read for anyone who loves comics, autobiography, or historical fiction.
Satrapi was born in Iran. She now lives in France.
2‘The Corpse Exhibition’ by Hassan Blasim
In 2007, four Blackwater Worldwide guards killed 14 Iraqi civilians in what is now known as the Nisour Square Massacre. The men were sentenced to 30 years and life in prison in 2015. In his short-story collection, The Corpse Exhibition, Hassan Blasim revisits this darkest period in the Iraq War.
Blasim was born in Iraq. He now lives in exile in Finland.
3‘In the Country of Men’ by Hisham Matar
Hisham Matar's debut novel, In the Country of Men, garnered numerous awards nominations following its publication in 2006. The story centers on Suleiman, a nine-year-old boy in Tripoli, who lives with his anti-Qaddafi activist father and his alcoholic mother.
Matar was born in the U.S. to Libyan parents, and spent much of his childhood in Libya and Egypt. He now lives in the U.K.
4‘Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth’ by Warsan Shire
Made mainstream famous by Beyoncé's sampling of it in Lemonade, Warsan Shire's Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth is the one poetry collection you should read to understand the immigrant and refugee experience. It's a thin volume you can read in a single sitting, but the words will stay with you long after you've closed the cover.
Shire was born in Kenya to Somali refugees. She now lives in the U.K.
5‘Lyrics Alley’ by Leila Aboulela
In Lyrics Alley, Leila Aboulela uses the friction within a merchant family to mirror the political unrest in 1950s Sudan. Wives clash over their differences, star-crossed cousins have their betrothal disrupted by a tragic accident, and the family patriarch is left to sort out the damage.
Aboulela was born in Egypt to an Egyptian mother and a Sudanese father. The family moved to Sudan shortly after her birth. She now lives in Scotland.
6‘A Woman in the Crossfire’ by Samar Yazbek
This memoir from Samar Yazbek details the last days she spent in her home country, as the Arab Spring finally reached Syria and the citizens revolted against President Bashar al-Assad's regime. A Woman in the Crossfire recounts the crackdowns, interrogations, and deaths that swept through Syria in 2011.
Samar Yazbek was born and raised in Syria. She is currently banned from leaving the country.
7‘Hurma’ by Ali al-Muqri
This short novel never names its heroine, whose ill-advised attempts to take control of her life form the bulk of its narrative. Looking for fulfillment, she travels from her home in Sana'a, Yemen to Sudan, hoping to join up with some radicals.
Ali al-Muqri was born in Yemen. He now lives in France.