Beacon Press: City of Refugees
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City of Refugees

The Story of Three Newcomers Who Breathed Life into a Dying American Town

Author: Susan Hartman   Narrated by: Samara Naeymi

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For readers of Caste, City of Refugees paints an intimate portrait of the newcomers revitalizing a fading industrial town—illuminating the larger canvas of refugee life in 21st century America.

For many Americans, ‘refugee’ still conjures up the image of a threatening outsider: a stranger who will steal jobs, or a family who will be a drain on the economy. Yet, most people know little about how refugees have actually fared in America: the lives they have built over generations and the cities they have transformed.

In New York state, the old manufacturing town of Utica could have disappeared altogether if it wasn’t for the growing population of refugees who revved the economic engine—starting small businesses, renovating houses, and adding a fresh vitality to the community through cultural diversity. For 8 years, journalist Susan Hartman followed 3 newcomers as they put down roots in a new city: Sadia, a bright, rebellious Somali Bantu girl battling her formidable mother; Ali, an Iraqi translator, still suffering trauma from the ongoing war in his homeland; and Mersiha, an ebullient Bosnian, who dreams of opening a café. They’re also the entry point to those leading the city: the mayor, teachers, doctors, and firefighters, who have adapted to the refugees that have made the city their home.

Hartman explores the ways these refugees have stitched together their American and traditional identities, the dreams they have for their new lives in Utica, and the pain some still carry from their pasts.
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"Insightful and fascinating . . . will hone and reshape the reader's understanding of the impact of refugees on American society."

"Hartman draws an intimate and captivating portrait of the struggle to build new lives while holding on to old values. Readers will gain vital insight into the immigrant experience in America."
Publishers Weekly

"Susan Hartman illuminates the humanity of these outsiders while demonstrating the crucial role immigrants play in the economy—and the soul—of the nation."
—Stuart Miller, Los Angeles Times

"“With a keen eye for detail and a lot of heart, Hartman follows three refugees for eight years… Hartman crafts a nuanced narrative about each creating a new life in a new country while simultaneously holding onto memories of home and not losing their identity. The beauty of City of Refugees is that it tackles all the bad things that happen to these people while also reveling in their dreams and growth.”
—Gabino Iglesias, San Francisco Chronicle

"A gripping, fast-moving immersion into the lives of three bright new lights in a once fading town, City of Refugees is a meticulous and timely work of journalism."
—Dina Nayeri, author of The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You

"This is an American tale that everyone should read—the story of three refugees who forged a new life in the Rust Belt. Hartman's journalistic dedication is nothing short of astounding. She spent eight years following her subjects, and it shows. The storytelling is so intimate and the characters feel so deeply real that you will know them like neighbors. Sadia, who is a teenage girl when the book begins, is like the heroine of a great young adult novel. You will root for her on every page, and by the end, you will not be able to wall off your heart from her hopes and dreams."
—Jake Halpern, author of Welcome to the New World

"Susan Hartman's City of Refugees is storytelling at its very best. Her detailed portrait of the ordinary lives of a few extraordinary people and their community gives us an utterly compelling glimpse into the heart and soul of the United States of America in the twenty-first century."
—Jenny McPhee, author and translator

"What a wonderful book! In this remarkably nuanced portrait of three refugees, Susan Hartman manages a skillful end run around the topic's usual politicized discourse. Instead, she concentrates on her subjects' current and past experiences, including religious persecutions, wars, physical danger, and their ambitions, confusions, joys, and fears."
—Lis Harris, author of In Jerusalem: Three Generations of an Israeli Family and a Palestinian Family

"City of Refugees is a tender, intimate, and important book—a carefully reported rebuttal to the xenophobic narratives that define so much of modern American politics and a gripping portrait of what three different refugees have offered the city of Utica through their labors of love."
—Sarah Stillman, staff writer, The New Yorker

"Susan Hartman has written a vital book about the refugee experience in America. With spare and direct prose, she captures the daily joys and heartaches of three refugee families. This is a story of the tenacity of family bonds and the underappreciated contributions of refugees to the vitality of American life. I loved every single page."
—Jen Percy, author of Demon Camp: The Strange and Terrible Saga of a Soldier's Return from War

City of Refugees

ISBN: 978-080700380-0
Publication Date: 6/7/2022
Size: x
Price:  $20.00
Format: Audio
Availability: In stock.

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