I just finished reading City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp by Ben Rawlence.

It is a really sad, vivid, frustrating book. Frustrating not because the book is badly written but because you finish reading it and feel helpless and angry and overwhelmed by all the injustice in the world.

dadaab refugee camp

I know I haven’t been blogging much lately and this post certainly doesn’t do much to fill that hole. I just wanted to take my small corner of the internet to recommend City of Thorns. In my nit-picky way, I was bothered by what came to feel like the author’s rather annoying style of writing. Many sentences could have been clearer and he should have used much more active tense. I got weary of gerunds and commas. His Somali words needed someone else to help with spelling and I remain endlessly curious (even after perusing in detail the end notes and looking some of them up) about where he got some of this information. But – don’t let that all turn you away, most people won’t even notice these things.

If you want to understand even a teensy bit of what refugees go through in today’s world, read this book. Somali, Ethiopian, Sudanese, Syrian, Yemeni, it doesn’t matter. The specifics of course will differ for each individual story and region, but broad issues are the same the world over. If you’re curious about the Westgate shopping mall attack in Kenya, if you don’t understand why Somalis and Kenyans have such deep hatred for each other, read this book.

I know others are reviewing the book and will give much more thoughtful responses. All I can do is suggest that you read it.

City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp.