Fri 03/11/2023 - 14:24

"What you need to be warm" is a new poem by British author Neil Gaiman. In a touching way, he describes what we as humans need to feel safe, welcome and warm. Topics that become all the more important when we are forced to leave our homes and find our way in a new place. "You have the right to be here", Gaiman ends his text. As a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, he has been campaigning for many years to ensure that refugees are heard and supported. You can help by buying his new book: The money will go to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency’s operations.  

And perhaps you would also like to take a further literary look at the topics of flight and displacement. So here are seven more book tips from us :  

1. "What We Owe" by Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde

This is about the question: Can we find a new home when we leave the old one? The Iranian author's book is about Nahid, who is terminally ill. She fled from Iran to Sweden pregnant and with her husband shortly after the Islamic revolution. She wanted her child to lead a life of freedom. Now her daughter has long since grown up. And knowing that she probably doesn't have much time left, Nahid wants to tell her story. A story marked by loss and feelings of guilt.

2. "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini

A world bestseller that still touches. Amir and his father flee Afghanistan when Soviet troops invade. They build a new life for themselves in the USA. Amir leaves behind his former best friend Hassan, with whom he shares a terrible secret. Years later, Amir receives a phone call and the opportunity to make up for his mistake: Hassan's son is in great need. Amir thus returns to his homeland... Afghan-born doctor and author Khaled Hosseini is very committed to helping refugees and is a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.

3. "Silence is my mother tongue" by Sulaiman Addonia

Saba arrives as a young girl together with her mute brother Hago and her mother in a refugee camp in East Africa. The family has lost everything and their new home is a cold, hostile place. But the people in the camp also have dreams for the future. Saba fights for her place and at the same time wants to protect her brother. The siblings refuse to take on the roles that society wants to impose on them. Author Sulaiman Addonia had to flee Eritrea himself as a child and grew up in a refugee camp. He now lives in Brussels and is very committed to helping people who have been forced to flee from their homeland.

4. "Across the Tumen" by Young-sook Moon 

Yeong-dae is 12 years old and lives with his family in North Korea. There is a great famine in the country and the suffering is enormous. Older sister Jeong-ran therefore wants to flee to China. She falls for a woman who promises her a better life there - but Jeong-ran is kidnapped and sold. Her parents and younger sister soon die, leaving Yeong-dae all alone in the streets. He decides to go to China in search of his older sister. The most arduous journey of his life, but also full of hope. South Korean author Young-sook Moon wrote the novel for young people, with the aim of bringing Korean history closer to the younger generation.   

5. "The Fisherman and His Son" by Zülfü Livaneli

Mustafa and his wife live in a small village in the Aegean Sea. Their young son Deniz has drowned, so the couple rarely experience happiness. But when Mustafa goes out to sea one morning to fish, he finds a baby in a rubber dinghy. His parents probably wanted to flee to Europe by sea with him, like many others. Mustafa and his wife hide the child from the authorities as they are determined to keep it. The novel by Turkish writer, singer and director Zülfü Livaneli shows what parental love really means, especially in the face of a human drama. Livaneli was imprisoned several times in his home country and lived abroad for several years.

6. "It would be Night in Caracas" by Karina Sainz Borgo

The protagonist Adelaida struggles to survive in socialist Venezuela during the transition from Hugo Chávez to Nicolas Maduro. The story begins with her having to bury her mother. But she only stays at the grave for a short time, because the cemetery in the capital Caracas is dangerous - just like any other place in Venezuela. The country is sinking into chaos and misery. Everything Adelaida loved now only exists in her memory. When she is forcibly evicted from her home, she decides to flee. Venezuelan journalist Karina Sainz Borgo delivers an important contemporary document with her first work. Her novel also contains autobiographical elements. She now lives in Spain. 

7. "The Seventh Cross" by Anna Seghers

The last book tip is not about a current refugee situation, the novel is set in Nazi Germany. Seven prisoners escape from a concentration camp. The camp management is certain that the men will soon be recaptured. So they prepare seven torture crosses. Six of the escapees pay for their attempt with their lives, only one manages to cross the border. The seventh cross remains empty. The novel repeatedly deals with the decision between betrayal or loyalty, selfish renunciation or solidarity. The book made the German author Anna Seghers famous at a stroke in 1942. She herself had to flee from the National Socialists and lived in France, Mexico and later in the GDR.

We wish you an exciting and informative read!