Reading as Resistance – How do you fight back? Reading Authors from the Seven Countries Banned By Trump, Part 1.

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Last week, I followed Trump’s Executive Orders closely. Each day, there seemed to be new trials and tribulations unleashed from his pen as he signed one executive order after another.

What I would like to focus on today is Friday’s executive order, and my response.

When a draft executive order was leaked to the media on Wednesday that placed a moratorium on the refugee admissions program, and an outright travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries, I knew we had even more trouble ahead. Prior to the birth of my daughter, I worked in refugee resettlement. I remember the repercussions of the two-month freeze on refugee admissions after 9/11, how it devastated resettlement agencies and made it incredibly difficult for them to have enough funds to keep case workers employed, so that they could continue to help people who were already here, and prepare for those who would arrive after the ban was lifted.

When an admissions ban goes into effect, almost all funding for resettlement agencies dries up quickly. And Friday’s executive order is like no other. A 120-day moratorium on ALL refugee admissions is twice as long as the post-9/11 freeze. A complete travel ban on all citizens of seven countries, irregardless of their visa status, or how long they have lived in the United States.

Such a ban has a catastrophic impact on people fleeing war and famine, on permanent residents who have made a home in America only to find themselves trapped outside of the country and unable to return home. Discrimination against a person based on their religion or national origin is a gross violation of a person’s human rights, and Friday’s EO is harmful to hundreds of thousands of people.

Much has already been written on the illegalities of this executive order, which breaks both domestic and international law. How can we respond, especially as a book community, to such discrimination and human rights violations?

As an individual, I have participated in quite a few actions over the past week. I have called my Senators and Congressional Representatives almost every day. On Friday evening, I participated in a protest at the Charlotte Douglas Airport. I donated, again, to the ACLU, the International Refugee Assistance Project, and my local refugee resettlement agencies. I will continue to volunteer in the refugee community on a regular basis.

For those who also engage in activism, you are likely already aware that self-care is needed to prevent burnout. One of my biggest forms of self-care is reading. Yet, even in this hobby, I see a way to Resist.

I have made a committment to reading at least one novel written by authors from each of the seven countries included in the immigration and travel ban: Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Somalia. I encourage you to do the same.

During the course of this week, I will feature authors from each of these seven countries. I am a firm believer in the ability to learn through literature. If you are participating in #DiversityBingo2017, most of these suggestions will work for a few of the categories in that challenge as well.

Today’s post will highlight authors from Sudan and Yemen.

Authors from the Seven Countries Affected by Trump’s Travel Ban: Sudan and Yemen

Sudan

Leila Aboulela. Leila grew up in Kartoum, graduating from Khartoum University in 1985. She was awarded the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2000 for her short story The Museum, and her novel The Translator was nominated for the Orange Prize in 2002, and was chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times in 2006.

  • Lyrics Alley – “The evocative story of an affluent Sudanese family shaken by the shifting powers in their country and the near-tragedy that threatens the legacy they’ve built for decades.”
  • The Translator – “Sammar is a Sudanese widow working as an Arabic translator at a Scottish university. Since the sudden death of her husband, her young son has gone to live with family in Khartoum, leaving Sammar alone in cold, gray Aberdeen, grieving and isolated. But when she begins to translate for Rae, a Scottish Islamic scholar, the two develop a deep friendship that awakens in Sammar all the longing for life she has repressed.”
  • Minaret – “Leila Aboulela’s American debut is a provocative, timely, and engaging novel about a young Muslim woman — once privileged and secular in her native land and now impoverished in London — gradually embracing her orthodox faith.”

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Tayeb Salih. Tayeb was born in Karmakol, near the village of Al Dabbah in the Northern Province of Sudan. He studied at Khartoum University before leaving for the University of London in England. Despite living abroad for most of his life, his fiction is firmly rooted in the village in which he spent his early years.

  • Season of Migration to the North – “After years of study in Europe, the young narrator of Season of Migration to the North returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan. It is the 1960s, and he is eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country.”

Yemen

Wajdi al-Ahdal is a Yemeni novelist, short story writer and playwright. Born in 1973 near Bajil in the province of Al Hudaydah, he received a degree in Literature from Sanaa University in Yemen. He won the Afif short story prize in 1997, and the youth prize of the President of the Republic of Yemen for a short story in 1999.

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  • A Land Without Jasmine – “A sexy, satirical detective story about the sudden disappearance of a young female student from Yemen ‘s Sanaa University.”

Zayd Mutee’ Dammaj was a Yemeni politician and writer. His short novel The Hostage was selected by the Arab Writers Union as one of the top 100 Arabic novels of the 20th century.

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  • The Hostage – “Set in the pre-revolution Yemen of the Imams, this novel depicts the experiences of a young boy who, having been taken hostage, in line with the Imam’s general practice, as a pledge for his father’s political obedience, is sent to serve as a young male attendant in the palace of the city governor.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Wednesday!

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12 thoughts on “Reading as Resistance – How do you fight back? Reading Authors from the Seven Countries Banned By Trump, Part 1.

  1. Brilliant explanation of what’s happening and what a great idea to highlight the countries affected through their literature. I’ll definitely be looking these up. I’ve just read The January Children by Safia Elhillo, a poetry collection set in and about Sudan; well worth a read.

  2. Pingback: Reading as Resistance – Part 2 | 4thhouseontheleft

  3. Pingback: Reading as Resistance – Part 3 | 4thhouseontheleft

  4. Pingback: When Politicians Become Bullies: Jacob’s New Dress | 4thhouseontheleft

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