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City of Refugees The Story of Three Newcomers Who Breathed Life into a Dying American Town

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2023-05-09
  • Publisher: Beacon Press

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For readers of Caste, this intimate portrait of newcomers revitalizing a fading industrial town illuminates the larger canvas of refugee life in 21st century America

Many Americans imagine refugees as threatening outsiders who will steal jobs or be a drain on the economy. But across the country, refugees are rebuilding and maintaining the American Dream. In City of Refugees, journalist Susan Hartman shows how an influx of refugees helped revive Utica, New York, an old upstate manufacturing town that was nearly destroyed by depopulation and arson.
Hartman follows 3 of these newcomers over the course of 8 years as they and their families adjust to new lives in America. There’s Sadia, a bright, spirited Somali Bantu teenager who rebels against her formidable mother; Ali, an Iraqi translator who creates a home with a divorced American woman but is still traumatized by war; and Mersiha, a hard-working and ebullient Bosnian who dreams of opening a café.
They are part of an extraordinary migration of refugees from Vietnam, Bosnia, Burma, Somalia, Iraq, and elsewhere, who have transformed Utica over the past four decades—opening small businesses, fixing up abandoned houses, and adding a spark of vitality to forlorn city streets.
Other Rust Belt cities have also welcomed refugees, hoping to jump-start their economies and attract a younger population. City of Refugees is a complex and poignant story of a small city but also of America—a country whose promise of safe harbor and opportunity is knotty and incomplete, but undeniably alive.

Author Biography

Susan Hartman has written about immigrant communities for over 20 years. Her cover stories and profiles have appeared in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, and Newsday. The author of two books of poetry, she was educated at Kirkland College and received an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where she now teaches. She lives outside New York City with her husband; they have 2 grown children.

Table of Contents

Author’s Note


1. Desire
2. Fire
3. The Fight
4. Truce
5. The Green Onion
6. Vows
7. The Gift
8. The Cake Boss
9. In Bloom
10. The Wedding
11. With Strangers
12. Shadow
13. In Bosnia


14. The Strike Force
15. Graduation
16. Confessions of a Teacher
17. Ismar’s Dream
18. The Ban
19. The Drone
20. August
21. Coming Home
22. The New Apartment
23. Lofts
24. Mersiha Leaps
25. Bomb Threat
26. The Rutger Restaurant
27. Nineteen
28. Designing a House
29. The Crossing
30. Deployed
31. The Key
32. Who Will Help You?


33. They Don’t Talk About It
34. On the Brink
35. Solo
36. Ramadan, 2019
37. The Mayor’s Sweep
38. Sadia’s List
39. The Visit
40. Renovating
41. The Baby Shower
42. Their Generation
43. Six Months
44. His Text
45. On the Run
46. On Wings
47. The Opening
48. Karma

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The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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