Stories from Unwanted Nations
Book type: Anthology
Published: 20 Jan 2018
In January 2017, President Trump signed an executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – from entering the United States, effectively slamming the door on refugees seeking safety and tearing families apart. Mass protests followed, and although the order has since been blocked, amended and challenged by judges, it still stands as one of the most discriminatory laws to be passed in the US in modern times. Banthology brings together specially commissioned stories from the original seven ‘banned nations’.
Covering a range of approaches – from satire, to allegory, to literary realism – it explores the emotional and personal impact of all restrictions on movement, and offers a platform to voices the White House would rather remained silent.
Co-published in the US by Deep Vellum Publishing.
Translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Basma Ghalayini, Perween Richards, Sawad Hussain, William M. Hutchins and Hope Campbell Gustafson.See Short Story Course with Karline Smith, Manchester event HERE
'A brief, bold collection... each narrative sings its unique culture – but together they voice a human need to belong, to explore, to be free.' - The Irish Times
'Hungry, marooned, afraid … compelling short stories capture the experiences of those who were directly affected by the US president’s travel ban' - The Guardian
'Each writer (and translator) deserves enormous credit for contributing to a worthy enterprise and committing a small yet supremely effective act of defiance.' - The National
'An impressive undertaking... Some surreal, some traumatic, some hopeful; this collection demonstrates the nuanced and difficult situation in which the ban has placed [the authors].' - Asympotote
‘Seven fresh, surprising views on boundaries and borders in a collection that combines black humour, Islamo-futurism, fantasy, and painful realities.’ - M. Lynx Qualey
'This is finely spun magical realism to rival the likes of Borges and García-Márquez.' - The State of the Arts
'Banthology aims to give voice to and better understand a set of nations who have been writ off in one sweeping stereotype, and it does so. Those in power try to silence many voices – this is a triumphant refusal to let that happen.' - The Skinny
'What this anthology confirms is that bans never work. Every story in these pages is a testament to the impossibility of confining the imagination and the human spirit into a narrow space. What you will read are reminders of what it means to exist in this moment in history. At turns hilarious and tragic, ironic and heartbreaking, Banthology should be read everywhere, at anytime. And in particular, right now.' - Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze
'Banthology. Stories from Unwanted Nations, released in the UK in January and coming to the U.S. in March, manages to slip the frame′s trap... It does so by coming straight at it: selecting stories that wittily, angrily and movingly write back against borders.' - Qantara
'This collection does not, however, read as an attempt to show that Libyans, Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians, Somalis, Sudanese, and Yemenis eat, breathe, roll their eyes, and write poems just like the rest of us. (By Jim, they do!) Instead, the collection works to interrogate border-ness, bans, and the words and ideas that circulate around them.' - ArabLit
'I found something compelling in every single one of these stories, and, as a bonus, the book is just over 100 pages long, making it both a quick read and something that can be very easily revisited. To quote the introduction by Sarah Cleave, the collection’s editor, I’d recommend them to anyone who wants to go “to all the places that Donald Trump doesn’t want you to go”.' - Strange Bookfellows
'Perhaps most striking [...] is the fascinating way each author manipulates form to increase the narrative’s effect: Anoud dips between third and first person; Farah incorporates an outside narrator; Omareen weaves in and out of settings and memories with the precision of a Parisian driver. These graceful movements only increase the emotional punch of each narrative, leaving readers to wonder — and hope — that these authors will continue to find a home with U.S. publishers.' - The Eastern Iowa Gazette
'Each one of these stories challenges stereotypes of Arabic people in the West...' - Floralia
'Its seven stories are all excellent contributions, allowing the reader a glimpse behind the Trumpian propaganda of countries looking to destroy the west. There are several pieces... that will linger in the memory – hopefully far longer than a certain president will remain in power…' - Tony's Reading List
As featured on For Books' Sake's Weekend Read and Literary Hub.
Read an interview with the editor Sarah Cleave in The Bookseller (£)
Read an interview in D Magazine with Zaher Omareen who wrote 'A Beginners Guide to Smuggling' for the collection.
Read an interview with Will Evans from US co-publisher Deep Vellum in The Eastern Iowa Gazette and a review in the same paper here.
Listen to Dr Ubah Cristina Ali Farah read 'Jujube', the English translation of her story published in Banthology.
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