100 books like Refugees of the Revolution

By Diana Allan,

Here are 100 books that Refugees of the Revolution fans have personally recommended if you like Refugees of the Revolution. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Gate of the Sun

Anne Irfan Author Of Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the International Refugee System

From my list on Palestinian refugees.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian at University College London, where I examine Palestinian refugee history in both my writing and my teaching. I first visited a Palestinian refugee camp 15 years ago, and I’ve spent much of my life since then researching the subject’s history and politics. As I see it, this topic is really the key to understanding the political dynamics of Israel-Palestine today. While a huge amount has been written on Israel-Palestine, I have always found that the most striking and informative works focus on refugees’ own experiences – and that’s the common thread running through the books I’ve chosen here.

Anne's book list on Palestinian refugees

Anne Irfan Why did Anne love this book?

Gate of the Sun is one of the most acclaimed novels about the so-called “question of Palestine.”

Although fictional, it hews closely to real life; the author Elias Khoury, a Lebanese writer, was informed by the extensive time he spent talking to Palestinian refugees in various camps. The book is set in Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon and has an epic scope, weaving together different characters’ experiences of displacement and exile and spanning six decades from the 1930s to the 1990s.

Along the way, we engage with some of the most pivotal moments in recent Palestinian history: the original displacement of 1948 (known as the Nakba); the Arab defeat of 1967; the 1982 massacre in Sabra and Shatila camps. Epic in every sense.

By Elias Khoury, Humphrey Davies (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gate of the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Notable Book of the Year

“An imposingly rich and realistic novel, a genuine masterwork” that vividly captures the Palestinian experience following the creation of the Israeli state (New York Times Book Review)
 
After Palestine is torn apart in 1948, two men remain alone in a deserted makeshift hospital in the Shatila camp on the outskirts of Beirut—entering a vast world of displacement, fear, and tenuous hope.
 
Khalil holds vigil at the bedside of his patient and spiritual father, a storied leader of the Palestinian resistance who has slipped into a coma. As Khalil attempts to revive Yunes,…


Book cover of The Palestinians: From Peasants to Revolutionaries

Anne Irfan Author Of Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the International Refugee System

From my list on Palestinian refugees.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian at University College London, where I examine Palestinian refugee history in both my writing and my teaching. I first visited a Palestinian refugee camp 15 years ago, and I’ve spent much of my life since then researching the subject’s history and politics. As I see it, this topic is really the key to understanding the political dynamics of Israel-Palestine today. While a huge amount has been written on Israel-Palestine, I have always found that the most striking and informative works focus on refugees’ own experiences – and that’s the common thread running through the books I’ve chosen here.

Anne's book list on Palestinian refugees

Anne Irfan Why did Anne love this book?

This is the book that made me want to learn more and more about Palestinian refugee experiences.

On first publication it was groundbreaking in various ways. Way before it was commonplace for researchers and activists, the author Rosemary Sayigh spent time living in a Palestinian refugee camp and learning directly from her interactions with people there.

She also took an unconventional approach to understanding Palestinian history; instead of engaging with formal historical narratives, she was interested in how people experienced history. To do this she focused primarily on listening to the experiences of refugee women.

As a result, her work became significant in the field of oral history as well as Palestinian studies. The Palestinians presents the refugees’ history on this basis, and is all the more memorable for it. 

By Rosemary Sayigh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Palestinians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the Israel-Palestine conflict rages on, it is more important now than ever to understand the history of the Palestinian people. Rosemary Sayigh's The Palestinians is a classic of radical history.

Through extensive interviews with Palestinians in refugee camps, she provides a deeply-moving, grassroots story of how the Palestinians came to be who they are today. In their own voices, Palestinians tell stories of the Nabka and their flight from their homeland. Sayigh's powerful account of Palestinians' economic marginalisation the social and psychological effects of being uprooted and the political oppression which they have faced continues to resonate today.

Reissued…


Book cover of Exile's Return: The Making of a Palestinian-American

Anne Irfan Author Of Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the International Refugee System

From my list on Palestinian refugees.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian at University College London, where I examine Palestinian refugee history in both my writing and my teaching. I first visited a Palestinian refugee camp 15 years ago, and I’ve spent much of my life since then researching the subject’s history and politics. As I see it, this topic is really the key to understanding the political dynamics of Israel-Palestine today. While a huge amount has been written on Israel-Palestine, I have always found that the most striking and informative works focus on refugees’ own experiences – and that’s the common thread running through the books I’ve chosen here.

Anne's book list on Palestinian refugees

Anne Irfan Why did Anne love this book?

If you only ever read one Palestinian memoirist, it should be Fawaz Turki.

He published three book-length memoirs, all excellent, but this is his most comprehensive autobiography and as such the must-read of all his works. It covers his early years in Haifa, his family’s displacement to Lebanon in 1948, and his subsequent adolescence in Burj al-Barajneh refugee camp; as well as his later studies and career in the US.

Exile’s Return is organized around his first return visit to Palestine in the 1990s, where he comes face-to-face with the realities of the Israeli occupation and continuing Palestinian dispossession. There are now many brilliant memoirs and autobiographies by Palestinian refugees, but Turki remains the memoirist par excellence in this genre. 

By Fawaz Turki,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Exile's Return as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A memoir tells of a Palestinian exile's return to his family's West Bank home after forty years of Western life, his dismay at the rigid conformity of Palestinian society, and his recognition that he has become a Palestinian American


Book cover of Being Palestinian: Personal Reflections on Palestinian Identity in the Diaspora

Anne Irfan Author Of Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the International Refugee System

From my list on Palestinian refugees.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian at University College London, where I examine Palestinian refugee history in both my writing and my teaching. I first visited a Palestinian refugee camp 15 years ago, and I’ve spent much of my life since then researching the subject’s history and politics. As I see it, this topic is really the key to understanding the political dynamics of Israel-Palestine today. While a huge amount has been written on Israel-Palestine, I have always found that the most striking and informative works focus on refugees’ own experiences – and that’s the common thread running through the books I’ve chosen here.

Anne's book list on Palestinian refugees

Anne Irfan Why did Anne love this book?

Being Palestinian is a collection of essays by Palestinians reflecting on their identity and experiences living outside of their homeland.

I’ve chosen it here because few works are so effective in conveying both the commonalities and the diversity of the Palestinian refugee experience. The contributors range from Ivy League professors to activists campaigning for justice in the Middle East today; they include figures who grew up in refugee camps and those raised in some of the wealthiest cities in the world.

In many ways Being Palestinian is the perfect introduction to learning more about the subject, because it is accessible and highly personal without being simplistic. 

By Yasir Suleiman (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Being Palestinian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What does it means to be Palestinian in the diaspora? This collection of 100 personal reflections on being Palestinian is the first book of its kind. Reflecting on Palestinian identity as it is experienced at the individual level, issues of identity, exile, refugee status, nostalgia, belonging and alienation are at the heart of the book. The contributors speak in many voices, exploring the richness and diversity of identity construction among Palestinians in the diaspora. Included are contributions from Palestinians living in the Anglo-Saxon diaspora, mainly the UK and North America. They come from a variety of professional backgrounds: business people,…


Book cover of The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace

Yossi Klein Halevi Author Of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

From my list on passionate reads on the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

In books, essays and reportage, I've been writing about Israel and the conflict since moving from the U.S. to Israel in 1982. Even as I write from within my Israeli consciousness, I have tried to understand and convey other perspectives. For Israelis and Palestinians, there is nothing abstract about this conflict; it is, instead, a matter of life and death. My writing is an attempt to simultaneously convey the passions of this conflict and offer an empathic voice for all those caught in this seemingly hopeless situation.

Yossi's book list on passionate reads on the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Yossi Klein Halevi Why did Yossi love this book?

What is the core of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and what is the key to its solution? In this groundbreaking work, Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf argue that the answer is not settlements or holy places or even the absence of a Palestinian state. Instead, the core of the conflict is the Palestinian national movement’s insistence on “right of return” of millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees to what is now the state of Israel – rather than resettlement in a future Palestinian state. What Palestinian leaders have effectively done, argue the authors, is link the end of the conflict to a “solution” that will mean the end of a sovereign Jewish state. The authors, who support the creation of a Palestinian state, argue that its creation depends on the willingness of Palestinian leaders to give up their dream of destroying Israel through a shift in its demographic balance. Until that…

By Adi Schwartz, Einat Wilf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The War of Return as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two prominent Israeli liberals argue that for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians to end with peace, Palestinians must come to terms with the fact that there will be no "right of return."

In 1948, seven hundred thousand Palestinians were forced out of their homes by the first Arab-Israeli War. More than seventy years later, most of their houses are long gone, but millions of their descendants are still registered as refugees, with many living in refugee camps. This group―unlike countless others that were displaced in the aftermath of World War II and other conflicts―has remained unsettled, demanding to…


Book cover of In Camps: Vietnamese Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Repatriates

Maria Cristina Garcia Author Of State of Disaster: The Failure of U.S. Migration Policy in an Age of Climate Change

From my list on U.S. refugee policy.

Why am I passionate about this?

My family and I were among those prioritized for admission to the United States during the Cold War—a migration I discussed in my first book, Havana, USA. Not all who seek refuge are as fortunate, however. Less than one percent of refugees worldwide are ever resettled in the top resettlement nations like the United States. My scholarship examines how US refugee policy has evolved in response to humanitarian, domestic, and foreign policy concerns and agendas.

Maria's book list on U.S. refugee policy

Maria Cristina Garcia Why did Maria love this book?

Jana Lipman examines the Vietnamese refugee camps in Guam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Hong Kong in the decades after the fall of Saigon. She asks us to consider how camps function as liminal social and legal spaces where refugees forfeit rights with the hope of eventually securing membership (and rights) in a resettlement society. It is in the camps that refugees try to prove their ‘worthiness’ for admission to society, and where they navigate a cumbersome—and often hostile—bureaucracy that ignores their humanity, often with dire consequences. 

The book examines the implementation of refugee policy at the local level by local actors, as well as the role of Vietnamese activism—in the camps and in the diaspora—in asserting refugee rights.

By Jana K. Lipman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Camps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robert Ferrell Book Prize Honorable Mention 2021, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations
Book Award for Outstanding Achievement in History Honorable Mention 2022, Association for Asian American Studies

After the US war in Vietnam, close to 800,000 Vietnamese left the country by boat, survived, and sought refuge throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific. This is the story of what happened in the camps. In Camps raises key questions that remain all too relevant today: Who is a refugee? Who determines this status? And how does it change over time?

From Guam to Malaysia and the Philippines to Hong Kong,…


Book cover of Unsettled: Refugee Camps and the Making of Multicultural Britain

Wendy Webster Author Of Mixing It: Diversity in World War Two Britain

From my list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and writer and worked in universities all my life. I love writing and everything about it—pencils, pens, notebooks, keyboards, Word—not to mention words. I started writing the histories of migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain (and their entanglement with the history of the British Empire) in the 1980s and then kept going. When I studied history at university, migrants and refugees were never mentioned. They still weren’t on historians’ radar much when I started writing about them. Here I’ve picked stories that are not widely known and histories that show how paying attention to migrants and refugees changes ideas about what British history is and who made it. 

Wendy's book list on migrants and refugees in twentieth-century Britain

Wendy Webster Why did Wendy love this book?

The history of refugees in twentieth-century Britain is hardly known. A map at the beginning of Unsettled reveals how many places in Britain feature in this history, all given the title ‘refugee camp’. Accommodation was in tents or in facilities that were repurposed including workhouses, holiday camps, wartime barracks, internment camps, air bases, and prisoner-of-war camps. Unsettled tells the story of life in these camps and is also about the impact of refugees and camps on local communities and the contexts in which refugees and local populations encountered each other. A striking finding is that homeless Britons sometimes lived in the camps alongside refugees. Unsettled is an unsettling read—it challenges the widespread forgettings of refugee camps in Britain and records a time before the state had the power to detain asylum seekers and deprive them of the right to work. 

By Jordanna Bailkin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Unsettled as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Today, no one really thinks of Britain as a land of camps. Camps seem to happen 'elsewhere', from Greece, to Palestine, to the global South. Yet over the course of the twentieth century, dozens of British refugee camps housed hundreds of thousands of Belgians, Jews, Basques, Poles, Hungarians, Anglo-Egyptians, Ugandan Asians, and Vietnamese. Refugee camps in Britain were never only for refugees. Refugees shared a space with Britons who had been displaced by war and
poverty, as well as thousands of civil servants and a fractious mix of volunteers. Unsettled: Refugee Camps and the Making of Multicultural Britain explores how…


Book cover of Silence Is My Mother Tongue

Helen Benedict Author Of The Good Deed

From my list on honest novels about being a refugee.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a novelist and journalist who has been writing about war and refugees for nearly two decades. In 2018, I went to the Greek island of Samos, which held one of the most inhumane refugee camps in Europe, to talk to people there about their lives and hopes. Out of this, I wrote several articles and later two books, including The Good Deed. My hope is to counteract the demonization of refugees, so rife in the world today, by bringing out all that we humans have in common, such as our need for shelter, food, family, safety, and love. 

Helen's book list on honest novels about being a refugee

Helen Benedict Why did Helen love this book?

This is a poetic, lilting, and truly original novel by an Eritrean-Ethiopian author who based the story on his own childhood in a Sudanese refugee camp.

The main characters are a young sister and brother, both bold, sexually fluid, and eager to break away from the stifling and often defeated culture of a refugee camp around them, which makes the story just as much about desire and love as it is about displacement.

I've never read anything quite like it before. It's surprising at every turn, and the writing is just stunning.

By Sulaiman Addonia,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Silence Is My Mother Tongue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sensuous, textured novel of life in a refugee camp, long-listed for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction

On a hill overlooking a refugee camp in Sudan, a young man strings up bedsheets that, in an act of imaginative resilience, will serve as a screen in his silent cinema. From the cinema he can see all the comings and goings in the camp, especially those of two new arrivals: a girl named Saba, and her mute brother, Hagos.

For these siblings, adapting to life in the camp is not easy. Saba mourns the future she lost when she was forced…


Book cover of When Stars Are Scattered

Alison Prowle Author Of Strength-based Practice with Children and Families

From my list on finding hope following childhood adversity.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in the South Wales Valleys during the 1970s and 80s, I witnessed firsthand the effects of multiple adversities on the lives of those around me. Life was difficult for many families in the area as they battled with poverty, ill health, and lack of opportunity. I watched many amazing, creative, and talented young people fail to realise their potential. This sparked a passion and a career for supportive intervention with families and young children. It is my aim to help equip the workforce to better understand and respond to childhood adversity, be trauma aware, advocate for children’s rights, and make a positive difference in the lives of children and young people.

Alison's book list on finding hope following childhood adversity

Alison Prowle Why did Alison love this book?

It is difficult to imagine a more adverse childhood experience than growing up in a refugee camp.

In 2016 and 2017, I was privileged to spend some time working with children and families in a refugee camp in North France. The living conditions were very difficult, with regular food shortages, ill health, uncertainty, and ever-present danger. However,  I was continually amazed by the resilience, creativity, generosity, and humour shown by the children, even in the face of such difficulties.

When Stars Are Scattered is a beautiful children’s book that tells the true story of Omar and his brother Hassan as they grow up in a Kenyan refugee camp. Filled with beautiful illustrations and thoughtful insights into daily life in the camp, this book exemplifies hope in the face of adversity. 

By Omar Mohamed, Victoria Jamieson,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked When Stars Are Scattered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

A National Book Award Finalist, this remarkable graphic novel is about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a former Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would…


Book cover of Running on Empty: Canada and the Indochinese Refugees, 1975-1980

Valerie Knowles Author Of Strangers at Our Gates: Canadian Immigration and Immigration Policy, 1540-2015

From my list on capturing Canada’s colourful immigration history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Canadian freelance writer, who has a BA in honours history from Smith College, an MA in history from McGill University, and a Bachelor in Journalism from Carleton University. As I have a special interest in Canadian history and Canadian biography, I have authored books in these subject areas. These include an award-winning biography of Sir William Van Horne, a polymath and railway general who pushed through the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and Cairine Wilson. Canada’s first woman senator, who was celebrated for her work with refugees in the 1930s and 1940s, and a best-selling survey of Canadian immigration and immigration policy, Strangers At Our Gates.

Valerie's book list on capturing Canada’s colourful immigration history

Valerie Knowles Why did Valerie love this book?

The fall of Saigon in 1975, inspired the largest and most ambitious refugee resettlement program in Canada’s history. In this compelling book, former Canadian immigration officers recount the experiences of a few dozen men and women who visited 70 remote refugee camps to arrange for the selection and resettlement of thousands of individuals displaced by oppression and war in eight different countries. The long days and humid and trying conditions under which these officers worked — sometimes sleeping on their work tables and subsisting on green tea and dried noodles – make for a gripping narrative. But the history also describes the 1976 Immigration Act, which established new refugee procedures and introduced private sponsorship. Ultimately, Canada accepted and resettled 60,000 refugees, half of whom were privately sponsored.

By Michael Molloy, Peter Duschinsky, Kurt Jensen , Robert Shalka

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Running on Empty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The fall of Saigon in April 1975 resulted in the largest and most ambitious refugee resettlement effort in Canada's history. Running on Empty presents the challenges and successes of this bold refugee resettlement program. It traces the actions of a few dozen men and women who travelled to seventy remote refugee camps, worked long days in humid conditions, subsisted on dried noodles and green tea, and sometimes slept on their worktables while rats scurried around them - all in order to resettle thousands of people displaced by war and oppression. After initially accepting 7,000 refugees from camps in Guam, Hong…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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