The Displaced

Viet Nguyen

Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sympathizer Viet Thanh Nguyen called on 17 fellow refugee writers from across the globe to shed light on their experiences, and the result is The Displaced, a powerful dispatch from the individual lives behind current headlines, with proceeds to support the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

Today the world faces an enormous refugee crisis: 68.5 million people fleeing persecution and conflict from Myanmar to South Sudan and Syria, a figure worse than flight of Jewish and other Europeans during World War II and beyond anything the world has seen in this generation. Yet in the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries with the means to welcome refugees, anti-immigration politics and fear seem poised to shut the door. Even for readers seeking to help, the sheer scale of the problem renders the experience of refugees hard to comprehend.

Viet Nguyen, called “one of our great chroniclers of displacement” (Joyce Carol Oates, The New Yorker), brings together writers originally from Mexico, Bosnia, Iran, Afghanistan, Soviet Ukraine, Hungary, Chile, Ethiopia, and others to make their stories heard. They are formidable in their own right—MacArthur Genius grant recipients, National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalists, filmmakers, speakers, lawyers, professors, and New Yorker contributors—and they are all refugees, many as children arriving in London and Toronto, Oklahoma and Minnesota, South Africa and Germany. Their 17 contributions are as diverse as their own lives have been, and yet hold just as many themes in common.

Reyna Grande questions the line between “official” refugee and “illegal” immigrant, chronicling the disintegration of the family forced to leave her behind; Fatima Bhutto visits Alejandro Iñárritu’s virtual reality border crossing installation “Flesh and Sand”; Aleksandar Hemon recounts a gay Bosnian’s answer to his question, “How did you get here?”; Thi Bui offers two uniquely striking graphic panels; David Bezmozgis writes about uncovering new details about his past and attending a hearing for a new refugee; and Hmong writer Kao Kalia Yang recalls the courage of children in a camp in Thailand.

These essays reveal moments of uncertainty, resilience in the face of trauma, and a reimagining of identity, forming a compelling look at what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of refuge. The Displaced is also a commitment: ABRAMS will donate 10 percent of the cover price of this book, a minimum of $25,000 annually, to the International Rescue Committee, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian aid, relief, and resettlement to refugees and other victims of oppression or violent conflict.

List of Contributors:
Joseph Azam
David Bezmozgis
Fatima Bhutto
Thi Bui
Ariel Dorfman
Lev Golinkin
Reyna Grande
Meron Hadero
Aleksandar Hemon
Joseph Kertes
Porochista Khakpour
Marina Lewycka
Maaza Mengiste
Dina Nayeri
Vu Tran
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
Kao Kalia Yang

Creator Bio

Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam in 1971. After the fall of Saigon in 1975 he and his family fled to the United States as refugees. Nguyen’s 2015 novel The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction from the ALA, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the California Book Award for First Fiction, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. In addition, The Sympathizer was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, among others. Nguyen is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at USC. His 2016 collection of critical essays, Nothing Ever Dies, was a finalist for the National Book Award and is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction. His first collection of short stories, The Refugees, was published in 2017 and was an instant New York Times Bestseller. He lives in Los Angeles.



“The stories are beautifully, and often angrily, told, and felt, and add up collectively to documentary proof of the possibilities – of empathy and humanity” The Observer

“In this collection of 17 essays (one consisting of cartoons) by writers who were forced to leave their homes, Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Pulitzer-winning novelist and himself a Vietnamese refugee to America, begins to assemble one. In so doing he gives ordinary Westerners a heart-wrenching insight into the uprooted lives led in their midst…the collection succeeds in demonstrating that this dispersed community in some ways resembles other nations. It has its founding myths, but its citizens all have their own tragedies, victories and pain—and each has a story to tell.” The Economist

“In The Displaced, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Viet Thanh Nguyen, himself a refugee, brings together a host of prominent refugee writers to explore and illuminate the refugee experience. Featuring original essays by a collection of writers from around the world, The Displaced is an indictment of closing our doors, and a powerful look at what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of refuge.” The Guardian

“At a time when empathy is at an all-time low for people seeking refuge from war, oppression and violence, this is is a key read.” Stylist magazine

“Nguyen and 17 other writers share their own experiences with displacement and immigration, and their… stories remind us why every culture needs newcomers.” The Week

“The world is full of people who left the place they were born just to stay alive. We hope this book finds its way into many hands and hearts, giving us a glimmer of empathy.” San Francisco Chronicle

“…an incisive and heartbreaking exploration of the refugee crisis…” Bustle

“Each essay is worthwhile.” – Lit Hub“The essays are consistently both eloquent and riveting.” World Literature Today

Price £18.99
Format Hardback
Publication Date 10 April 2018
Pages 192
Height 210mm
Width 140mm
Rights Europe, Africa, Middle East
ISBN-13 9781419729485