cover image Berlin Notebook: Where Are the Refugees?

Berlin Notebook: Where Are the Refugees?

Joshua Weiner. Los Angeles Review of Books, $5.99 e-book (146p) ISBN 978-1-940660-32-5

The complexity of the refugee crisis in Germany is conveyed in this insightful narrative that tells the story not only of the refugees themselves, but also of a country, its history, and its culture. What began for poet Weiner (The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish) as a series of articles for a newspaper, written during his visit to Germany in October 2015 at the height of the refugee influx from Syria, turned into this updated “notebook” following his return to Germany to follow up on the crisis in April 2016. In this free-flowing narrative that includes interviews with a wide range of people, both refugees and Germans, Weiner reveals both the logistical and underlying ideological issues involved in refugee resettlement. Revealing how stereotypes oversimplify situations and beliefs, Weiner conveys the refugees’ dignity and also sheds light on Germany’s sociopolitical issues. Weiner’s lyrical and affecting writing style betrays his poetry background, complementing journalistic frankness that captures the richness of the people and the city and makes the strife all the more hard-hitting. This beautiful study and exploration of people and values possesses relevance far beyond Berlin. (Sept.)