"Stephanie Saldaña long ago proved herself a poetic and perceptive essayist. In this book, she also proves herself a courageous one. Following refugees into the darkest and most dangerous spaces of recent history, she documents journeys that are about much more than bare survival, at once wrenching and radiant."
What We Remember Will Be Saved
A Story of Refugees and the Things They Carry
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Eggplant seeds, a lullaby in a vanishing language, an embroidered dress. When people flee their homes, the things they save speak of beauty and suffering and the indomitable human spirit.
In an era of mass migration in which more than 100 million people are displaced comes this lyrical portrait of Syrian and Iraqi refugees and the belongings they carry. What We Remember Will Be Saved is a book of hope, home, and the stories we hold within us when everything else has been lost.
Journalist and scholar Stephanie Saldaña, who lived in Syria before the war, sets out on a journey across nine countries to meet refugees and learn what they salvaged from the ruins when they escaped. Now, in the narratives of six extraordinary women and men, from Mt. Sinjar to Aleppo to Lesvos to Amsterdam, we discover that the little things matter a great deal. Saldaña introduces us to a woman who saved her city in a dress, a musician who saved his stories in songs, and a couple who rebuilt their destroyed pharmacy even as the city around them fell apart. Together they provide a window into a religiously diverse corner of the Middle East on the edge of unraveling, and the people keeping it alive with their stories.
Born of years of friendship and reporting, What We Remember Will Be Saved is a breathtaking, elegiac odyssey into the heart of the largest refugee crisis in modern history. It reminds us that refugees are storytellers and speakers of vanishing languages, and of how much history can be distilled into a piece of fabric, or eggplant seeds. What we salvage tells our story. What we remember will be saved.