Refugee Hotel

Photos by Gabriele Stabile, text by Juliet Linderman. McSweeney’s/Voice of Witness, $25 trade paper (296p) ISBN 978-1-936365-62-3
Photographer Stabile and journalist Linderman present the images and words of refugees to the U.S. in this compact, beautiful volume. A portion of the book is dedicated to the oral testimony of Stabile’s subjects and their friends and neighbors, cross-sampling the experiences of people forced to leave Bhutan, Burma, Burundi, Ethiopia, Iraq, and Somalia. Indisputably, though, the book’s main focus is on the photographs that Stabile has been taking, in black and white and color, of refugees since encountering an Ethiopian family at a New York City hotel in 2007. His moody but not overly affected work captures both the public anonymity of the airports and hotels where these immigrants first arrive and the intimacy of the homes and neighborhoods where they settle. Linderman sets the scene for the interviews and photos with brief, workmanlike primers on the resettlement process, the countries of origin covered, and the cities—including Mobile, Ala.; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; Charlottesville, Va.; Erie, Pa.; and Fargo, N.Dak.—where she and Stabile tracked down people they first met as new arrivals. The lack of captions, in particular clear identifications of the interviewees, may frustrate some, but also aids the authors’ willingness to let their subjects’ words and pictures speak for themselves. Linderman and Stabile resist the temptation to attempt an all-encompassing message, content to simply capture often ignored experiences. Photos. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/29/2012
Release date: 12/01/2012
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