Refuge: A Novel by Dina Nayeri

Refuge: A Novel

byDina Nayeri

Hardcover | July 11, 2017

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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 apart, the more their lives diverge, but also the more each comes to need the other's wisdom and, ultimately, rescue. Meanwhile, refugees of all nationalities are flowing into Europe under troubling conditions. Wanting to help, but also looking for a lost sense of home, our grown-up transplant finds herself quickly entranced by a world that is at once everything she has missed and nothing that she has ever known. Will her immersion in the lives of these new refugees allow her the grace to save her father?

Refuge charts the deeply moving lifetime relationship between a father and a daughter, seen through the prism of global immigration. Beautifully written, full of insight, charm, and humor, the novel subtly exposes the parts of ourselves that get left behind in the wake of diaspora and ultimately asks: Must home always be a physical place, or can we find it in another person?

About The Author

Dina Nayeri is the author of A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, which was translated into fourteen foreign languages. A graduate of Princeton, Harvard, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the O. Henry Prize, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Bogliasco Foundation, and several othe...
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Details & Specs

Title:Refuge: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.31 × 6.44 × 1.09 inPublished:July 11, 2017Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1594487057

ISBN - 13:9781594487057

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Bookclub Guide

1.     Refuge examines the idea of global identity. Do you think that belonging to a certain place in the world is important? Talk about how Niloo’s identity is connected to Iran, America, and Amsterdam.   2.     Immigration has been in the international spotlight for many years now. Refuge touches on the actual lives these political issues reflect; did the book change your views about immigration? How did you feel about the Iranian refugee community in Amsterdam? Do you think the situation will improve for them, or worsen?   3.     The topic of family in Refuge is fraught—discuss the ways Bahman and Niloo interact. Do you think that distance hurts or helps their relationship? How could things have been different for them if Bahman had emigrated with the rest of the family? Do you think some of their love comes directly from the fact that they keep their distance?   4.     The novel is framed around four visits between Bahman and Niloo, four “goodbyes.” How do you think these visits inform the rest of the story? How do they affect everything else that happens to the characters?   5.     Do you think Niloo and Gui made the right decision, by separating at the end of the novel? Discuss how relationships can change and digress over time.   6.     Siavash is an interesting character. He is an American, with American privilege—how does he fit within the group of Iranian refugees? Do you think this helps or hinders the group?   7.     Niloo feels a constant sense of unmooring. Because she is so truly a global citizen, she often does not feel as if she has a permanent home. Do you think a sense of home can be established within people, rather than places? By the end of the book, how does Niloo’s family become her home?   8.     Drug abuse is taken seriously in this novel—but it is portrayed differently from how it is in the mainstream media. How does the author show something new, through Bahman’s opium abuse?   9.     How do you think Niloo’s time in America affects her view of the world? She has spent much of her life in Oklahoma; how does this change her outlook when she’s living in Europe, and when she thinks about Iran?   10.  Do you think Niloo will ever go back to Iran? Why, or why not?  

Editorial Reviews

“The immigrant experience is at the heart of Dina Nayeri’s powerful novel of a family split by circumstances.” –Minneapolis Star-Tribune "Topical and urgent." –W Magazine“A nuanced look at what it means to seek refuge; novels don’t get more timely than this.” –The Millions“Dina Nayeri’s Refuge is a searing and moving meditation on the migrant experience…Against the ebb and flow of their separations and reconciliations, Nayeri charts the desperate journeys and the hopes and fates of other refugees of different nationalities seeking sanctuary in Europe. A timely read and a compelling one.” –Malcolm Forbes for The National“Refuge should be required summer reading in 2017… a beautiful and poignant portrait of the many different experiences of the displaced. A timely and necessary work... a vital read for anyone trying to understand what it means to lose and look for home.” –Bustle “Nayeri, who was an Iranian refugee herself, has written a novel that explores the current worldwide refugee crisis through the lens of a father-daughter relationship.” –Brightly "A poignant reflection on the plight of refugees… Nayeri uses gentle humor and evocative prose to illuminate the power of familial bonds and to bestow individuality on those anonymous people caught between love of country and need for refuge. A beautiful addition to the burgeoning literature of exile.” –Library Journal (starred review)“Richly imagined and frequently moving… [manages] various threads—the personal, the political, the cultural, the generational—deftly, and the result is poignant, wise, and often funny…a vital, timely novel about what it means to seek refuge.” —Kirkus“Set against landscapes of political unrest, Nayeri’s novel of a daughter and father seeking to reconcile their long-distance perceptions of family offers a captivating, multilayered exploration of lives caught between worlds.” —Booklist“A heart-splicing portrayal of the current refugee crisis...These are people who, seeking asylum, arrive in countries that aren’t their own but must be made inhabitable, if not home.” —The Riveter“A nuanced and remarkably textured narrative about a world few of us experience.” –BookPage “Nayeri’s prose sings while moving nimbly with equal parts seriousness and humor.” —Publishers Weekly"Beautifully elegiac, Refuge brings into focus the entire experience of emigration… Nayeri is brilliant on parental imperfections and the negotiations children make with their families, and she offers a remarkably textured portrayal of drug addiction and of everyday Iran that defies news-media stereotypes."  —Matthew Thomas, New York Times-bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves“Dina Nayeri’s prose has something all too rare in books these days: a wild, beating heart. Read this book to feel your own heart expand.” —Boris Fishman, author of A Replacement Life"For anyone who has wondered about the distance between contemporary American and Iranian lives and thought, this book is essential reading. If any book can close that distance, this one can." —Charles Baxter, author of The Feast of Love"Deeply felt . . . I was completely taken up by this book--invigorated by the intelligence, and inspired by the sensual descriptions of Iranian food and Amsterdam life. I'll keep this one in my bookshelf of favorites." —Alice Elliott Dark, author of Naked to the Waist, Think of England, and In the Gloaming Praise for A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea:"Ambitious and richly layered." —Vogue"Lovely." —Vanity Fair"A feel-good family tale." —Cosmopolitan"What a tremendous gift [Nayeri] offers us throughout the book, an opportunity to connect with the richness of Iran, while simultaneously enlarging our understanding of the human experience." —The Baltimore Times