My July column of short stories is up at PopMatters. This month’s theme is ‘refugees’. Each of these stories (all free to read online) shows a different side to the life of a refugee: despair and heartbreak, but also joy and love. Stories by these award-winning writers: Viet Thanh Nguyen, Guadalupe Nettel, Bernard Malamud, Choi Jin-young, and Mohsin Hamid. As usual, I also point out a couple of writerly things about each story from a craft perspective.
To lose one’s place without gaining another, to be alienated from one without being able to assimilate in another — this has always been the fate of the refugee. […] Refugees who are dissidents escaping from oppressive regimes have an even more significant cross-cultural impact on our times because they tend to move in mass groups. Entire UN agencies have sometimes been created to help them. Theirs is a vast, collective anguish over loss, estrangement, displacement, homelessness, and isolation. The literature that comes from their lived experiences is not simply an attempt to portray their traditions or eccentricities due to nostalgia. It’s a desperate effort to hold on to some sense of self when there’s no place for that self to belong. It’s a search for an identity that goes beyond labels like ‘asylum seeker’, ‘unaccompanied minor’, ‘deportee’, ‘detainee’, ‘illegal alien’, and more.