From Publishers Weekly
Yaghmaian's second book is an eye-opening account of Muslim immigrants traveling from Africa or the Middle East to the West, where they hope to find opportunities not available in their homelands. Yaghmaian is a native Iranian, now a U.S. national, who lived among Muslim migrants in Istanbul, Sofia, Athens, Patras, Paris, Calais, London and New York while collecting these accounts of leaving home, traveling illegally from country to country, suffering harsh punishments and imprisonments, and feeling the wrath of poverty. "We stand like beggars in the food line... but we came here with dreams," says one Afghan stuck in Patras, the gateway between Greece and Italy. Perhaps the most intense story is that of Tufan, a closeted Iranian homosexual who wants to be a writer and provide for his wife from an arranged marriage. It's clear Yaghmaian's subjects trust him, but why they do so is less obvious; Yaghmaian sticks to the facts of his travels and conversation, avoiding speculation about his subjects' motives, in effect becoming a conduit for the refugees' storytelling. It's a refreshing approach to an emotionally loaded and timely topic. Photos.
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From Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Angola, and other countries in the Middle East and Africa, thousands of desperate migrants are crossing borders to escape ethnic, political, and religious persecution. Yaghmaian, an Iranian American journalist and professor, speaks to the refugees in Istanbul, Athens, Paris, Sofia, London, and New York about why they left and what they left behind, their harrowing journeys, and their desperate need for asylum, made more difficult by "terrorist" stereotypes. Exploited by smugglers, assaulted in prisons and at borders, often denied refugee status by UN committees, many struggle to survive in tent cities, parks, and shacks. With none of the rambling typical of unedited oral histories, Yaghmaian tells these unforgettable stories with terse drama, combining his sympathetic commentary with the immediacy of rich, diverse voices. Most are men, many of them Kurds and Afghans; then there is the gay Iranian driven by prejudice at home; and the sharp woman, whose comment, "borders are illegal," says it all. The endings are heartbreaking. Up to now, few have found resolution. They are waiting to hear. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved