What We Remember Will Be Saved

A Story of Refugees and the Things They Carry

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.

Endorsements

"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."

Geraldine Brooks, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

"Amid the ashes of war and unimaginable losses in Iraq and Syria, there is beauty, to which Stephanie Saldaña bears witness in this indelible work that should be read widely and deeply."

Rubén Degollado, author of The Family Izquierdo

"This compassionate, fiercely humane collection of stories is exquisitely composed, an act of deepest grace. It is a compendium of precious preservation."

Naomi Shihab Nye, poet and the Poetry Foundation's Young People's Poet Laureate of the United States, 2019-21

"An emotional and thought-provoking book that provides an insightful, moving, and nuanced portrayal of the refugee experience. I felt each and every word. I was there!"

Tareq Hadhad, founder and CEO of Peace by Chocolate

"Beautiful, heartbreaking, and full of lush detail of creation and recreation. A profound journey of listening, of honest witness."

Sandy Tolan, author of the international bestseller The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East

"Saldaña's gorgeous new book reminds us of the breathtaking individuality of the men, women, and children seeking refuge around the world."

James Martin, SJ, bestselling author of Jesus: a Pilgrimage

Reviews

"This outstanding book from essayist and author Saldana puts names and faces on several emigrants from Iraq and Syria, emphasizing their distinctiveness....Readers won't soon forget the compelling stories of these brave individuals, revealed so poignantly by Saldana's beautiful writing."

Booklist, starred review

"Throughout this compassionate book, the author demonstrates the resilience of refugees, who carry with them their precious languages, cultures, and memories. Memorable personal stories that give much-needed depth and humanity to what are otherwise merely numbers."

Kirkus Reviews

"Saldaña's narrative exudes empathy and offers hope, showing how 'a lost neighborhood can be salvaged in a song and that an entire city can be carried in a dress.' It's a worthy testament to the resilience of refugees."

Publishers Weekly

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506484211
  • eBook ISBN 9781506484228
  • Dimensions 6.25 x 9.25
  • Pages 280
  • Publication Date September 12, 2023
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