“An El Norte or Grapes of Wrath for the Muslim world–affecting, immediate and well written.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Behzad Yaghmaian’s intimate, horrifyingly vivid account of the plight of Muslim refugees… takes us deep into the souls of the men and women he befriends, following them from the chaotic human bazaar of Istanbul to Sofia, Athens, Paris, and beyond.” —Mother Jones
“A gripping tale of hardship, adventure and yearning, of hopes raised and dashed, and of troubled and sometimes heroic adaptations to refugee camps…. One of many strengths of this book is to show … what strangely mixed motives impel these brave, complicated people. A masterful storyteller, Yaghmaian reveals many layers to the refugees’ personalities and histories, and some to his own.”—The San Francisco Chronicle
An eye-opening personal account of an epic human drama, Embracing the Infidel takes us on an astounding journey along a modern-day underground railroad that stretches from Istanbul to Paris. In this groundbreaking book, Iranian-American Behzad Yaghmaian has done what no other writer has managed to do–as he enters the world of Muslim migrants and tells their extraordinary stories of hope for a new life in the West.
In a tent city in Greece, they huddle together. Men and women from Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, and other countries. Most have survived war and brutal imprisonment, political and social persecution. Some have faced each other in battle, and all share a powerful desire for freedom. Behzad Yaghmaian lived among them, listened to their hopes, dreams, and fears–and now he weaves together dozens of their stories of yearning, persecution, and unwavering faith. We meet Uncle Suleiman, an Iraqi veteran of the Iran-Iraq war; once imprisoned by Saddam Hussein, he is now a respected elder of a ramshackle tent city in Athens, offering comfort and community to his fellow travelers…Purya, who fled Iran only to fall into the clutches of human smugglers and survive beatings and torture in Bulgaria…and Shahroukh Khan, an Afghan teenager whose world at home was shattered twice–once by the Taliban and again by American bombs–but whose story turns on a single moment of awakening and love in the courtyard of a Turkish mosque.
A chronicle of husbands separated from wives, children from parents, Embracing the Infidel is a portrait of men and women moving toward a promised land they may never reach–and away from a world to which they cannot return. It is an unforgettable tale of heartbreak and prejudice, courage, heroism, and hope.