100 books like Silence Is My Mother Tongue

By Sulaiman Addonia,

Here are 100 books that Silence Is My Mother Tongue fans have personally recommended if you like Silence Is My Mother Tongue. 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 Mornings in Jenin

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?

I listened to this book because I wanted to understand more about the history and people of Palestine as the 2023-24 war between Israel and Hamas was escalating to ever more deadly heights.

Abulhawa is a renowned Palestinian author, and this book was an international bestseller back in 2010, but I knew nothing of it at the time. I found the novel, a family saga stretching several generations from 1941 to 2022, so immediate, eye-opening, and moving that it was as if I were reading about the current war in real-time.

I loved it so much that I bought the actual book to keep forever. 

By Susan Abulhawa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mornings in Jenin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heart-wrenching, powerfully written novel that does for Palestine what The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan.

Mornings in Jenin is a multi-generational story about a Palestinian family. Forcibly removed from the olive-farming village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejos are displaced to live in canvas tents in the Jenin refugee camp. We follow the Abulhejo family as they live through a half century of violent history. Amidst the loss and fear, hatred and pain, as their tents are replaced by more forebodingly permanent cinderblock huts, there is always the waiting, waiting to…


Book cover of The Walking

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?

I read this book a few years ago and have never forgotten it, it affected me so profoundly.

It tells the story of two Kurdish brothers in a mountain village in Iran who are forced to flee persecution and slaughter, one of whom ends up in California. Khadivi, Iranian herself, tells this with such haunting beauty and honesty that it still gives me chills to remember it.

It's part of a trilogy, and I've read all three, but this is my favorite volume.

By Laleh Khadivi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two brothers from a small Iranian mountain village-Saladin, who has always dreamed of leaving, and Ali, who has never given it a thought-are forced to flee for their lives in the aftermath of a political killing. The journey is beset by trouble from the start, but over the treacherous mountains they go, on foot to Istanbul and onward by freighter to the Azores.There, after a painful parting, Saladin alone continues on the final leg, on a cargo plane all the way to Los Angeles. He will have a new life in California, but will never be whole again without his…


Book cover of Refuge

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?

Nayari's novel is also about Iranian refugees, but this story is set in Amsterdam, where an Iranian professional is struggling with her marriage, her identity, and her relationship with her father, who is still in Iran. While living in Europe, she learns of the dire straits faced by refugees from all over the Middle East and Africa, which makes for powerful and moving reading.

The writing is so intelligent and honest that this is one of my favorite novels of today.

By Dina Nayeri,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Rich and colorful… [Refuge] has the kind of immediacy commonly associated with memoir, which lends it heft, intimacy, atmosphere.” –New York Times

The moving lifetime relationship between a father and a daughter, seen through the prism of global immigration and the contemporary refugee experience.

An Iranian girl escapes to America as a child, but her father stays behind. Over twenty years, as she transforms from confused immigrant to overachieving Westerner to sophisticated European transplant, daughter and father know each other only from their visits: four crucial visits over two decades, each in a different international city. The longer they are…


Book cover of My Friends

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 new novel from Libyan writer Matar is mainly a story about the love between friends, especially male friends, but that love is set against displacement and trauma and the psychological difficulties of being separated from one's country, family, culture, and identity.

A contemplative, deeply thoughtful novel, it is totally engaging and searingly honest, just as much about being a human being as it is about political ideologies or survivor guilt. 

By Hisham Matar,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of What Is the What

Harriet Levin Millan Author Of How Fast Can You Run

From my list on astonishing idealism and survival in East Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first met Michael Majok Kuch and he asked me if I was interested in writing his life story, I knew nothing about South Sudan. Over the next several years, we met weekly. I’d interview him, write a chapter, research it, and then show it to him for his approval. I read everything I could find on South Sudan and the adjacent countries. In fact, I became so obsessed with Michael's culture that once I read Francis Mading Deng's Dinka Folktales, Mike’s sister arranged a meeting between Francis Mading Deng and me. These books prepared me for writing How Fast Can You Run, helping other “Lost Boys” of Sudan reunite with their mothers.

Harriet's book list on astonishing idealism and survival in East Africa

Harriet Levin Millan Why did Harriet love this book?

When One Book, One Philadelphia called me in my office at Drexel University and asked me to select 10 students to interview 10 South Sudanese refugees for a One Book project, I read Dave Egger’s epic tale of Valentino Achak Deng’s survival as a so-called “Lost Boy" of Sudan. Valentino along with thousands of other “Lost Boys” was forced to separate from his parents at a young age and trek thousands of miles across Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya without resources to food or water to arrive at several refugee camps. This is Valentino’s story yet it resonates with fleeing people worldwide. Anyone who lives in freedom will stop and listen to the plight of others after reading this astonishing book.

By Dave Eggers,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked What Is the What as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The epic novel based on the life of Valentino Achak Deng who, along with thousands of other children —the so-called Lost Boys—was forced to leave his village in Sudan at the age of seven and trek hundreds of miles by foot, pursued by militias, government bombers, and wild animals, crossing the deserts of three countries to find freedom.

When he finally is resettled in the United States, he finds a life full of promise, but also heartache and myriad new challenges. Moving, suspenseful, and unexpectedly funny, What Is the What is an astonishing novel that…


Book cover of Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of the Sudan

Nicki Cornwell Author Of Christophe's Story

From my list on asylum-seeking and displaced children and war.

Why am I passionate about this?

Two books that I read as a young child were very important to me. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss made me think about riches, poverty, and the power that rich people have to make stupid rules; and poor people have no choice but to obey them. The Japanese Twins from Lucy Fitch Perkins' series on twins from different cultures gave me a life-long interest in cultural differences. Not only did they think differently, depending on their culture, they also had different skin colours. Later I learned about racism when I worked with unhappy displaced children and interpreted for asylum-seekers. I write from a child's perspective, making books accessible to all ages.

Nicki's book list on asylum-seeking and displaced children and war

Nicki Cornwell Why did Nicki love this book?

30,000 children some of whom were as young as six were orphaned and displaced from their homes when their villages were attacked in the Civil War. They met and banded together to trek across Sudan to Ethiopia and Kenya, looking for a new home. This was a journey of almost 1,000 miles. Thousands died on the way, but over 3,000 survived and many were resettled in America. I learned what can happen to children when their village is attacked and their parents killed. It's a fascinating story of perseverance and the importance of hope.

By Mary Williams, R. Gregory Christie (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brothers in Hope as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Honor, American Library Association (ALA)
Notable Children's Book, Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)
Best Children's Books of the Year: Outstanding Merit, Bank Street College of Education
Notable Books for a Global Society, International Literacy Association (ILA)
Children's Book Award Notable, International Literacy Association (ILA)
Books Reflecting Diversity: - A Look Into a Wilder World, Bank Street College Children's Book Committee

Based on heartbreaking yet inspirational true events in the lives of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Brothers in Hope is a story of remarkable courage, and an amazing testament to the unyielding power…


Book cover of The Red Pencil

Dana VanderLugt Author Of Enemies in the Orchard: A World War 2 Novel in Verse

From my list on middle grade written that tackle grief.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I worked as a middle school teacher, I surveyed more than 200 students how they felt about books that included sadness and grief. The overwhelming answer from the students was that while adults too often minimize their feelings and dismiss the validity of their heartache, books do not. Many young readers want books that are honest and raw enough not to shield them from the world, but to pay enough attention to its pain to light a path, knowing that they can keep moving forward in the dark when they feel less alone and less afraid.

Dana's book list on middle grade written that tackle grief

Dana VanderLugt Why did Dana love this book?

The Red Pencil is a beautifully written novel in verse that gives readers a heartbreaking view into the life of Amira, a twelve-year-old Sudanese girl whose life is turned upside down when her village is destroyed by the Janjaweed and she is forced into a refugee camp.

This story of trauma and loss also contains hope as Amira is given a pencil and notebook, which serve to remind her of dreams that extend beyond the grief and loss she is enduring. I believe novels in verse are a powerful vehicle for telling powerful, hard stories, and Pickney’s verse provides literal and figurative beauty while revealing the ugly reality of the Civil War in Darfur.

By Andrea Davis Pinkney, Shane W. Evans (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Life in Amira's peaceful Sudanese village is shattered when Janjaweed attackers arrive, unleashing unspeakable horrors. After losing nearly everything, Amira needs to find the strength to make the long journey on foot to safety at a refugee camp. She begins to lose hope, until the gift of a simple red pencil opens her mind -- and all kinds of possibilities.


Book cover of A Long Walk to Water

Gayle Rosengren Author Of MacKenzie's Last Run

From my list on kids struggling to survive.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have no wilderness survival skills and certainly no wish to be thrown into any of the scenarios in the books I’ve recommended. What I do have is great empathy for those who struggle to survive loss—in whatever form it might come—be it loss of home, or security, or family. I know what it is to struggle through darkness and survive what I would have previously thought “unsurvivable.” That’s why two of my middle grade books, but especially MacKenzie’s Last Run, are about speaking up when you’re hurting or frightened. Lost in the dark woods or lost in grief–it’s all ultimately about survival. 

Gayle's book list on kids struggling to survive

Gayle Rosengren Why did Gayle love this book?

I love the way A Long Walk to Water follows two characters in two different timelines to reinforce the importance of water to survival. It’s an exciting combination of a true story and fictionalized one that intersect in an unexpected but wonderful way. Readers of any age, but especially younger ones, will be shocked by what one 11-year-old girl must do to obtain just a minimal daily amount of water for her family’s survival. They will also be inspired by how one 11-year-old boy, after barely surviving wartime experiences in his African homeland, returns years later to make a lasting impact on the lives of others. The double-pronged impact of these characters and their suspenseful stories will instantly engage readers, keep them enthralled to the final page, and leave a long-lasting impression.

This is more than a story, although it is a wonderful one. It is an eye-opener to the…

By Linda Sue Park,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Long Walk to Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Cherished by millions of readers, this #1 New York Times bestselling novel is a powerful tale of perseverance and hope. Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park interweaves the stories of two Sudanese children who overcome mortal dangers to improve their lives and the lives of others.

A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy,…


Book cover of God Is Dead

Martin Lastrapes Author Of Inside the Outside

From my list on dark fiction on the hidden shadows of humanity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love most all genre fiction, but I’m a sucker for dark fiction—and I have a particular fondness for dark fiction that explores the hidden shadows of men and women as they make dubious choices that lead to consequences rife with fear, despair, and unflinching terror. Whether it’s young men meeting in a basement to engage in a secret barbaric club or a world gone mad following the literal death of God, my favorite dark fiction is woven with sly satire and subversive social commentary.

Martin's book list on dark fiction on the hidden shadows of humanity

Martin Lastrapes Why did Martin love this book?

Ron Currie Jr. has written some of my very favorite books that explore big ideas through a dark, satirical lens. My favorite of Currie’s books is God Is Dead, which is a collection of interconnected stories that wonders what the world—and, more importantly, humanity—would look like if God took human form…then died. Each story looks at different characters and how they have responded to the reality of God’s death, from a group of teenagers who make a suicide pact to an epidemic of parents worshipping their children in the absence of God. Each story works together to explore larger themes of religion, violence, and the purpose of life.

By Ron Currie Jr.,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God Is Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The electrifying, "cutting-edge" (USA Today) debut work of fiction from Ron Currie, author of the forethcoming novel The One-Eyed Man (March 2017)

Ron Currie's gutsy, funny book is instantly gripping: If God takes human form and dies, what would become of life as we know it? Effortlessly combining outlandish humor with big questions about mortality, ethics, and human weakness, Ron Currie, Jr., holds a funhouse mirror to our present-day world. God has inhabited the mortal body of a young Dinka woman in the Sudan. When she is killed in the Darfur desert, he dies along with her, and word of…


Book cover of The Child Soldiers of Africa's Red Army: The Role of Social Process and Routinised Violence in South Sudan's Military

Nicholas Coghlan Author Of Collapse of a Country: A Diplomat's Memoir of South Sudan

From my list on how it all went wrong for South Sudan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Britain and emigrated to Canada in 1981. I was a late starter in the Canadian Foreign Service, which I joined for the not-very-laudable reason that I wanted to travel to interesting places and get paid for it. Little by little, starting with the 1994 Zapatista uprising in Mexico, I found myself drawn to conflictive states—Colombia, Pakistan, Sudan, South Sudan—where, with growing seniority and responsibility, it fell to me to recommend Canadian government approaches to aid, development, human rights, and conflict resolution. South Sudan is a tragedy that I can’t help thinking about. I can see where everything went wrong, but it’s much more difficult to see how it can be fixed.  

Nicholas' book list on how it all went wrong for South Sudan

Nicholas Coghlan Why did Nicholas love this book?

Carol Berger is a Canadian journalist and anthropologist with decades of experience in Sudan/South Sudan. This book is a meticulously-documented dissection of one of the founding myths of South Sudan: the supposedly glorious deeds of the rebel SPLA’s Red Army (made up of child soldiers) and the associated romance of the phenomenon known as the Lost Boys, as featured by Hollywood (The Good Lie). The truth is that during the second Sudanese civil war (1985-2003) thousands of young boys were ruthlessly exploited and/or abandoned by warlords, many of whom now hold positions of power in South Sudan. A fascinating sidebar is the story of the Cuban Jubans: the young boys who made their way from displacement camps in Ethiopia, via a long sojourn in Cuba, eventually settling in Alberta, Canada. Some two dozen returned to South Sudan in 2011/12 to work as doctors, and I had the pleasure…

By Carol Berger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Child Soldiers of Africa's Red Army as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book examines the role of social process and routinised violence in the use of underaged soldiers in the country now known as South Sudan during the twenty-one-year civil war between Sudan's northern and southern regions. Drawing on accounts of South Sudanese who as children and teenagers were part of the Red Army-the youth wing of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)-the book sheds light on the organised nature of the exploitation of children and youth by senior adult figures within the movement. The book also includes interviews with several of the original Red Army commanders, all of whom went…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Sudan, refugees, and refugee camps?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Sudan, refugees, and refugee camps.

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