cover image Somewhere in the Unknown World: A Collective Refugee Memoir

Somewhere in the Unknown World: A Collective Refugee Memoir

Kao Kalia Yang. Metropolitan, $17.99 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-29685-6

Hmong-American memoirist Yang (The Latehomecomer) tells the stories of fellow refugees who have ended up in Minnesota in this lyrical and frequently harrowing account. Her profile subjects include her uncle, who fought for the CIA in Laos only to be left behind when the U.S. pulled out of the country; a Bosnian war survivor who worked for an American aid organization at a refugee camp in Sudan; a young Karen man who fled Burma as his people were systematically murdered by the government; and an Iraqi woman whose grandfather was killed by Saddam Hussein’s soldiers. Through the story of a Vietnamese-American chef restoring his family’s restaurant, Yang also offers a moving portrait of University Ave. in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Once anchored by Henry Ford’s manufacturing plants, by the 1970s University Ave. had been left behind to drug dealers, gangs, and “immigrants and refugees.” Yang details how a wave of “small mom and pop businesses” began opening along the avenue, transforming it “from an abandoned, dying street into a vibrant enclave of diverse businesses.” This heartfelt and exquisitely written account shines a poignant light on the immigration debate. (Oct.)