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Read your way to Refugee Week: Book recommendations for 2023

Updated: Jun 16

By Counterpoints Arts UK, organisers of Refugee Week 2023

Whether you journey alongside the daughter of Iraqi-Jewish refugees, or experience the memories of a young woman who survives Sarajevo, stories can help us understand the importance of compassion surrounding displacement.

As part of Simple Acts, we have compiled a list of their favourite novels, non-fiction books, poetry anthologies, and even magazines and zines for Refugee Week 2023 about or by people with lived experience of seeking refuge to invite you to pick a book or short story to read alone, with friends or at a book club.

We hope these will not only teach and inspire you, but we also hope they demonstrate why we landed on Compassion as this year’s Refugee Week theme. We’ve included books on self-compassion, as well as books that reveal compassion in action, and compassion for those beyond our normal circles.

Fiction Assembly by Natasha Brown Asylum Road by Olivia Sudjic A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum Babel by R.F. Kuang By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah Exit West by Mohsin Hamid From Another World by Evelina Santangelo Iraq+100, edited by Hassan Blasim The Beekeeper of Aleppo ​​by Christy Lefteri The World and All That it Holds by Aleksandar Hemon

Poetry Bless the Daughter Raised by the Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire I Was Not Born a Sad Poet by Loraine Masiya Mponela Leaving Fingerprints by Imtiaz Dharker Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

Non-fiction A Human Being Died That Night by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela All Else Failed by Dana Sachs Asylum Speakers by WorldWideTribe Conversations from Calais edited by Mathilda Della Torres Dispatches from the Diaspora by Gary Younge Hope Not Fear by Hassan Akkad Map of Hope and Sorrow by Eyad Awwadawnan, Helen Benedict Refugee Heritage by Sandi Hilal, Alessandro Petti This Hostel Life by Melatu Uche Okorie The Lightless Sky by Gulwali Passarlay The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri Voices from the Jungle by Calais Writers Who Gets Believed? By Dina Nayeri

Compassion and mental health All About Love by bell hooks Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey

Other Resources: Books about refugees and asylum seekers for children, Booktrust Refugee Week book recommendations, Waterstones

If books aren’t your jam, why not pick up a magazine or zine to flick through? We’ve put together a list of some of our favourites. These magazines highlight the work of refugees and issues around migration through creativity and the arts. We’ve also shared a couple of climate focused publications to remind us of the climate refugee crises and non-human migrants: Atmos Beyond Resilience Eko Emergence Other side of hope Shado The Road to Nowhere

Whatever you do, let us know what you’ve read and where it took you by sharing on social media using #ReadaBook and #SimpleActs. If your social media post includes images or names of other people, make sure you get permission first, including from parents/ guardians of anyone under 18. Read a Book is one of ten Simple Acts you can do for Refugee Week 2023. To view them all, visit the Simple Acts page.

Celebrating it's 25th year, Refugee Week is the UK’s largest festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees. Using the arts, culture and education, Refugee Week aims to create spaces where the contributions of refugees are celebrated, people from different communities enjoy positive encounters and refugee experiences are shared and understood in new ways.

Visit to find out more.

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