Banthology: Stories from Unwanted Nations edited by Sarah Cleave
Banthology: Stories from Unwanted Nations
“We were all individuals until we reached Europe, then we became Ferenja,” says Kalimera in Zaher Omareen’s droll story The Beginner’s Guide to Smuggling. Ferenja comes from the Byzantium for foreigner, something recent US immigration policies make of us all. Writers from Trump’s “banned nations” – Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Iran and Sudan – all respond to these restrictions in a brief, bold collection. Displacement, desperation and resolve – these stories are of the caged bird and the fugitive.
Rania Mamoun’s Bird of Paradise catches the paralysis of those trained to be captive, the narrator dreaming of flight but frozen at the moment of departure. In Ubah Cristina Ali Farah’s sumptuous, devastating Jujube, a young Somalian woman is stranded in Italy, lost to trauma and nurtured by war, her family vanished. Even when asylum is finally found, the word is laced with irony. To Jamela, in Anoud’s Storyteller, there is no refuge but addiction. Here are glimpses from a car, an airport queue, an unfamiliar street. Each narrative sings its unique culture – but together they voice a human need to belong, to explore, to be free.