Suggested Reading

Suggested Reading

          Non-fiction and fiction writers alike have tackled the issues surrounding the lives of asylees, from   fleeing  violence to the difficulties of seeking refuge in a new land. Listed below are some books that provide insight into the plight of asylum-seekers and make for a compelling read.


Little Bee by Chris Cleave

“Every now and then, you come across a character in a book whose personality is so salient and whose story carries such devastating emotional force it’s as if she becomes a fixed part of your consciousness. So it is with the charmingly named title character in Chris Cleave’s brilliant and unforgettable Little Bee… sequined with lustrous turns of phrase, spanning two continents and driven by real-life global concerns… What elevates this novel even further is Cleave’s forceful call for all of us, the floating masses of a globalized, socially isolating modern world, to look after one other.”—The Seattle Times

This novel revolves around the lives of two women: Little Bee, a young, Nigerian asylum-seeker and Sarah, a successful British journalist. Though their homelands and life experiences set them worlds apart, their worlds collide one fateful day on a Nigerian beach. The events of that day continue to haunt both women, and when Sarah finds Little Bee hidden in her backyard after a treacherous journey to England and a dangerous stay in a detention center their lives become further entangled as each realizes they need the other to make sense of her life and move on. This novel provides piercing commentary on developed countries and their isolation and detachment from developing countries’ conflicts. Chris Cleave calls for an awareness of the plight of Little Bee and all those who have shared similar life experiences.

Chris Cleave is a novelist and a columnist for The Guardian newspaper in London. His bestselling novel, Incendiary, was published in 20 countries, won the 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was short-listed for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, won the United States Book-of-the-Month Club’s First Fiction Award, and won the Prix Spécial du Jury at the French Prix des Lecteurs 2007. Inspired by his early childhood in West Africa and by an accidental visit to a British concentration camp, Little Bee is his second novel.


Refugee Sandwich: Stories of Exile and Asylum by Peter Showler

Information below taken from publisher’s website, McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Although more than thirty thousand refugee claims are decided in Canada every year, the personal stories behind them are never heard by the Canadian public. Peter Showler exposes the dilemmas and choices faced by participants in the refugee determination process in this collection of thirteen vignettes that focus on the roles played by the participants – legal counsel, federal court judges, interpreters, hearing officers, and, of course, claimants and board members.

Showler uses satire to expose the prejudices, myopia, ignorance, provincialism, and lack of sensitivity that mark the decisions of officials. Refugee Sandwich attacks the patronage-based system of appointment and re-appointment and its sometimes tragic consequences, revealing the wide gulf between legal ideal and legal fact. Against a historical analysis of human rights abuses from a dozen countries, the author offers a sympathetic rendering of the predicament of the refugee claimant as well as a critical look at some of the more common devices and abusive strategies employed by fraudulent claimants.

Peter Showler is the former chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. He teaches refugee law at the University of Ottawa where he is the Director of the Refugee Forum of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre.


Seeking Refuge: Central American Migration to Mexico, the United States, and Canada by María Cristina García

Taken from the publisher’s website, University of California Press

The political upheaval in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala had a devastating human toll at the end of the twentieth century. A quarter of a million people died during the period 1974-1996. Many of those who survived the wars chose temporary refuge in neighboring countries such as Honduras and Costa Rica. Others traveled far north, to Mexico, the United States, and Canada in search of safety. Over two million of those who fled Central America during this period settled in these three countries.

In this incisive book, María Cristina García tells the story of that migration and how domestic and foreign policy interests shaped the asylum policies of Mexico, the United States, and Canada. She describes the experiences of the individuals and non-governmental organizations—primarily church groups and human rights organizations—that responded to the refugee crisis, and worked within and across borders to shape refugee policy. These transnational advocacy networks collected testimonies, documented the abuses of states, re-framed national debates about immigration, pressed for changes in policy, and ultimately provided a voice for the displaced.

García concludes by addressing the legacies of the Central American refugee crisis, especially recent attempts to coordinate a regional response to the unique problems presented by immigrants and refugees—and the challenges of coordinating such a regional response in the post-9/11 era.

María Cristina García is Associate Professor of History at Cornell University and the author of Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida, 1959-1994 (California, 1996).


Asylum Denied: A Refugee’s Struggle for Safety in America by David Ngaruri Kenney and Philip G. Schrag

Taken from the publisher’s website, University of California Press

Asylum Denied is the gripping story of political refugee David Ngaruri Kenney’s harrowing odyssey through the world of immigration processing in the United States. Kenney, while living in his native Kenya, led a boycott to protest his government’s treatment of his fellow farmers. He was subsequently arrested and taken into the forest to be executed. This book, told by Kenney and his lawyer Philip G. Schrag from Kenney’s own perspective, tells of his near-murder, imprisonment, and torture in Kenya; his remarkable escape to the United States; and the obstacle course of ordeals and proceedings he faced as U.S. government agencies sought to deport him to Kenya. A story of courage, love, perseverance, and legal strategy, Asylum Denied brings to life the human costs associated with our immigration laws and suggests reforms that are desperately needed to help other victims of human rights violations.

David Ngaruri Kenney came to the United States after he was persecuted in Kenya. He continues to pursue a career in public service and currently works at the Montgomery County State ‘s Attorney’s Office in Maryland, USA. Philip G. Schrag is Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Applied Legal Studies at Georgetown University Law Center. He is the author of many books including Ethical Problems in the Practice of Law, with Lisa G. Lerman, and A Well-Founded Fear: The Congressional Battle to Save Political Asylum in America.


A Well-Founded Fear: The Congressional Battle to Save Political Asylum in America by Philip G. Schrag

Taken from Google book reviews

In 1996, powerful anti-immigrant forces in Newt Gingrich’s 104th Congress worked hard to pass the most restrictive immigration law in decades. The new law has changed virtually every aspect of immigration policy, including the rules for political and religious refugees. However, the law is not as harsh as the chairmen of the immigration committees would have wanted. A fascinating case story of the legislative process and the author’s experiences as a public interest lobbyist,A Well-Founded Feartells how a coalition of human rights and refugee organizations fought to preserve the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. A vital contribution to the relation between human rights and immigration policy.

Philip G. Schrag is Professor of Law at Georgetown University. He has written numerous books, including Global Action: Nuclear Test Ban Diplomacy at the End of the Cold War (1992) and Civil Procedure (1990). His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post.


Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees by Caroline Moorehead

Taken from the publisher’s website, MacMillan

Traveling for nearly two years and across four continents, Caroline Moorehead takes readers on a journey to understand why millions of people are forced to abandon their homes, possessions, and families in order to find a place where they may, quite literally, be allowed to live. Moorehead’s experience living and working with refugees puts a human face on the news, providing unforgettable portraits of the refugees she meets in Cairo, Guinea, Sicily, Lebanon, England, Australia, Finland, and at the U.S.-Mexico border. Human Cargo changes our understanding of what it means to have and lose a place in the world, and reveals how the refugee “problem” is on a par with global crises such as terrorism and world hunger.



Author: Consolee Nishimwe.  2012: Balboa Press

Ms. Nishimwe has been a guest at Rosie’s Place, and she was also the keynote speaker at the genocide memorial event held in Kalamazoo in June 2016.  Her remarkably moving book will stay in your mind and heart for a long long time.