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Exhibits

Resettlement Through The Eyes of Refugees

Sunday January 28, 2018: 9:00am to 9:00pm
Malletts Creek Branch: Exhibits

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Exhibits

MiASLA 2017 Landscape Architecture Design Awards Exhibit

Tuesday September 19, 2017: 9:00am to 9:00pm
Malletts Creek Branch: Exhibits

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Exhibits

Creating With Clay

Wednesday September 6, 2017: 9:00am to 9:00pm
Downtown Library: Lower Level Display Cases

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Exhibits

2017 Kerrytown BookFest Library Exhibit

Wednesday September 6, 2017: 9:00am to 9:00pm
Downtown Library: 3rd Floor Exhibit

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Exhibits

Resettlement Through The Eyes of Refugees

Wednesday September 6, 2017: 9:00am to 9:00pm
Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room Exhibit

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Blog Post

Contemporary Fiction by African Authors

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 5:52pm

With the continuous popularity of books such as Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, fiction about modern Africa is becoming ever more prominent. These novels are a great learning tool to connect readers with stories and experiences they may not necessarily be familiar with. Although these authors may seem hard to come across, the library has you covered with some great recommendations. Be sure to check out this list for more modern novels written by African authors! Here are 2 intriguing titles to get you started.

Named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post is Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue. Jende, a struggling Cameroonian immigrant lives in Harlem with his wife and son. When he finds an opportunity working for the Lehman Brothers in New York, he is certain his luck has improved but soon learns that everything is not what it seems. With the 2008 financial crisis serving as a backdrop, read and find out how Jende learns what it takes to make it in America, all while keeping his family together. The novel is currently being featured as apart of Oprah's book club.

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta tells a unique story about Africa. Amid a perilous interstate civil war, a young Nigerian girl is sent to a neighboring village for safety. During her stay, she meets a refugee girl of a different ethnic background and quickly falls in love. Due to cultural norms, she faces negative stigmas placed on her and her new found love leaving her to make an important decision. Does she make the choice to dishonor her host family or to fall in love? This novel was featured on NPR's Best Books of 2015 list.

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Blog Post

Refuge: A Novel

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 4:24pm

[cover_image]|1512938[/cover_image]

At the beginning of [a:Nayeri, Dina|Dina Nayeri’s] expressive, well-crafted, second novel, [b:1512938|Refuge], Dr. Bahman Hamidi sits outside a courtroom and watches the proceedings of the twelve divorce cases that proceed his. During this time, he reflects back on how he arrived at this point, the verge of ending his third marriage. He thinks of his first wife, and his son and daughter, who fled from Iran in 1987 to escape religious persecution after his wife converted to Christianity. Bahman is still plagued, in 2009, by the question of whether he did the right thing in letting them go, and in not joining them. He has only seen his family four times since they left. His daughter Niloo lives in Amsterdam with her husband, and it is her voice that narrates the alternating chapters of this book. We begin to understand her perspective on leaving Iran and her relationship to her father, on her vague memories of her early refugee years that instilled in her a “forever refugee feeling.” As the novel progresses, the story continues to jump back and forth between these decades and the points of view of Bahman and Niloo.

[b:1512938|Refuge], rooted in the Arab Spring uprisings and the European migrant crisis, emphasises the ways in which being a refugee has marked Niloo for life. For example, when her debit card is declined while shopping for groceries in Amsterdam, due to bank error, she is shamed by the memory of her mother’s card being declined, of watching her mother put back all her food until she had only what she could pay for. “What Niloo feels is animal panic, the sensation of a world spitting her into another tier, one she has occupied before and that awaits her, that has missed her and knows she will be back.” This notion of having a foot in two worlds is a central theme in [a:Nayeri, Dina|Nayeri’s] book. One way Niloo manages this push and pull is to set up and live by a strict set of rules, going so far as to compose a list of written guidelines for marriage that she shares with her husband. Through this order, she strives to define and know herself, her exploration underscoring a merging of identities and cultures that may be crucial for many exiles. She meets a group Persian activists and asylum seekers, and finds herself beginning to investigate some of the choices she has made about her tightly structured life. Niloo is able to re-frame the complicated way in which she has seen her father, to realize that he has had his own struggles. The chapters that focus on Bahman provide us with a picture of a man whose life is complicated by his opium addiction, his politics, his ex-wives and his desire to see his grown children. Like Niloo, he is attempting to reconcile these disparate aspects of his reality.

The idea that one must look past the flaws of family members to seek some harmony lies at the heart of this father/daughter story. [b:1512938|Refuge] speaks to reinvention, finding new roots after being so uprooted, and to finding, perhaps embracing, the exiled parts of oneself.

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Blog Post

A History of Welcoming

Thu, 03/09/2017 - 7:23am

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They came for a new life, better opportunities and a [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19860629-for_one_soviet_immigrant_the_anger_is_slow_to_subside|promise of freedom]. They also came to escape war, political oppression, hunger and natural disasters. Whatever the reason, Ann Arbor has long put out the [http://oldnews.aadl.org/BN125_19970501_chase_008|welcome mat] for [http://oldnews.aadl.org/taxonomy/term/116964|immigrants] and [http://oldnews.aadl.org/taxonomy/term/5537|refugees], and those who came left their mark on their new home.

Every year [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19811029-record_number_107_area_residents_earn_citizenship|new citizens] of the United States have pledged their allegiance to the United States at swearing in ceremonies in [http://oldnews.aadl.org/N024_1246_002|District Court] in Ann Arbor. Each year the Ann Arbor News recorded the names of new citizens from every corner of the world. They were students, carpenters, nurses, engineers, barbers, [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19970502-becoming_an_american_ann_arbor_courtroom|homemakers], lexicographers, medical technologists and scholars. They were [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19860629-an_ethiopian_exile_adjusts_to_a_new_kind_of_success|Ethiopian], Chinese, Haitian, Syrian, [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19640528-36_become_citizens_in_washtenaw_county|British], French, [http://oldnews.aadl.org/N037_0404_002|Greek], immigrants from more than [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19770704-100_nations_represented_here|100] others nations of the world. The news ran photos showing new patriots [http://oldnews.aadl.org/BN039_19931004_warner_029|beaming] with anticipation, [http://oldnews.aadl.org/N104_0063_002|waving] little American flags and, sometimes, shedding tears to have finally made that final step in the long road to citizenship. The names of former immigrants can be seen all over town in [http://aaobserver.aadl.org/aaobserver/18379|historic buildings], [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19750330-allmendinger_factory_produced|park names], long thriving [http://aaobserver.aadl.org/aaobserver/17449|businesses].

Some came to Ann Arbor as refugees. In 1957, Joseph Kovacs [http://oldnews.aadl.org/N029_0320_001|celebrated] his 12th birthday with two birthday cakes and his new classmates at Eberwhite School. Joseph and his family had fled Hungary after Soviet troops drove tanks into Budapest. They found a [http://oldnews.aadl.org/N012_1195_001|warm welcome] in Ann Arbor. In 1940, [http://oldnews.aadl.org/N032_0208_002|children from Britain] found a safe haven from German bombs. Others from [http://oldnews.aadl.org/N036_0956_001|France], Germany and other countries found their way from the ravages of Nazism and [http://oldnews.aadl.org/N023_0124_001|World War II]. Refugees were later welcomed in 1964 from Castro’s [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19631202_p29-cuban_refugee_happy_here|Cuba], in 1980 from [http://oldnews.aadl.org/N102_0276_002|Vietnam], in 1982 from [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19821012-st_andrews_opens_its_doors|Haiti] and from many other human and natural situations. Local churches found a place for [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19870608-unitarians_ok_creation|displaced persons], local charitable groups gave shelter, [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19410820-doing_her_part|clothes], food and opportunities.

Their stories are became part of [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19991004-ann_arborites_inscribe_ancestors_on_ellis_wall_of_honor|Ann Arbor’s story], a town where people from every walk of life and every corner of the world [http://oldnews.aadl.org/aa_news_19931027-naturalization_teaches_ethnic_understanding|made a contribution] to the community.

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Blog Post

Exit West

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 1:00pm

[cover_image]|1503789[/cover_image]

[b: 1503789|Exit West], [a:Hamid, Mohsin|Mohsin Hamid's] new novel, is remarkably germane. The story of Nadia and Saeed, a young couple forced to flee a collapsing city, is on one level a love story, relaying the journey that a couple takes through their relationship, but more than that, it is the narrative of what it means to be a refugee, the toll taken by the severity of the act of leaving one’s country.

Realism in [b: 1503789|Exit West] has a little give to it. Nadia and Saeed leave from an unnamed country in the midst of a civil war, their exit provided through an actual door. These doors of escape can appear anywhere and lead all over. The one though which Nadia and Saeed leave is in a dental office, “the blackness of a door that ha[d] once led to a supply cabinet.” The means of flight here might bring to mind other recent books where real-life or historical events are viewed through a slightly skewed reality, such as [a:Whitehead, Colson|Colson Whitehead’s] [b:1493023|Underground Railroad]. And like any other channel of departure for a refugee, these doors/portals guarantee no safe exit. One is left to meet whatever is on the other side unknowingly. The use of these doors that can pop up anywhere accentuates the discordant experience that refugees must face, to forsake one world so suddenly and be born again in another “for when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.”

While some of [b: 1503789|Exit West] exists in this semi-realistic sphere, much of it is all too real. Technology and social media play a significant role in keeping people connected. While their city is being destroyed around them, Nadia and Saeed perpetuate their relationship through texts and phone calls. The role of social media is so vital to human connection, both on a personal level and on a global level. [a:Hamid, Mohsin|Hamid] reminds us of the clash of these worlds, the virtual versus the real. “But even now the city’s freewheeling virtual world stood in stark contrast to the day-to-day lives of most people, to those of young men, and especially of young women, and above all children who went to sleep unfed but could see on some small screen people in foreign lands preparing and consuming and even conducting food fights with feasts of such opulence that the very fact of their existence boggled the mind.” When mobile service vanishes, much human connection is severed.

The passage through doors “was both like dying and like being born,” and we understand, when Nadia and Saeed take this passage, how closely [a:Hamid, Mohsin|Hamid’s] magical doors hew to a true refugee experience. Upon approaching her exit, Nadia is “struck by its darkness, its opacity, the way it did not reveal what was on the other side, and also did not reflect what was on this side, and so felt equally like a beginning and an end.”

Eventually, this young couple find themselves in a house of refugees, people from all over the world whose cultures and languages differ greatly but who are thrust together in a common experience. The friction of this situation creates a friction between Nadia and Saeed and highlights the strain that leaving behind the known for the unknown can take. “The only divisions that mattered now were between those who sought the right of passage and those who would deny them passage.”

[b: 1503789|Exit West] gives a glimpse of what it is to be a refugee and what it is to refuse refugees, the shame that comes from being displaced and the struggle to maintain a feeling of humanity. The novel is only strengthened by the fact that [a:Hamid, Mohsin|Hamid] never gives a name to the country from which Nadia and Saeed escape. He peppers his book with tales, some almost fairy-tale like in quality, of other travelers. On occasion points of departure are named, but not always. Combining this with the unusual form of deliverance for all these refugees underscores the universality of the refugee experience.

In an interview on [http://lithub.com/the-first-post-brexit-novel-mohsin-hamids-exit-west/|Literary Hub], [a:Hamid, Mohsin|Hamid] said, “I wanted this to be a novel about refugees that reminded us we’re all refugees. A little namelessness and bending of physics went a long way.”

[b: 1503789|Exit West] is filled with strikingly eloquent passages on religion and prayer, parenthood, love, and of course, the jarring difficulty of becoming a displaced person. To read it is to be submersed in this beauty and brutality all at once.