This work presents a readable and comprehensive introduction by the editor. It includes a personal and social history of the refugee experience in the UK. It presents accounts that range from German-Jews to Iraqi Kurds, as well as Vietnamese, Afghanis, Chileans and others. The contributors include poet George Szirtes and historian Richard Grunberger. It gives a much-needed personal dimension to the ongoing debates on asylum in the UK. It is ideal as 20th and 21st social history for British History sections or as part of current affairs. This is a collection of memoir, fiction and poetry that explores being British from the perspective of the newly arrived. It is both a personal and social history of the migratory tracks that have gone into creating the contemporary identities that form our society today and an unflinching reminder of what it is to be an outsider. The narratives poignantly depict the twin mechanism of loss and hope faced by newcomers to these shores, as they simultaneously search for ways to hold onto memories of lives no longer lived and in turn inhabit new ways of being.
Importantly the refugee experience is shown to be multifarious, not simply in its involvement of different races and nationalities but in the attitudes and reactions of those involved. Gratitude and admiration for British democracy and cultural diversity is mixed with pain at the racism and ignorance encountered integrating into the country. The book acts as a timely and accessible rejoinder to the reductionism employed by politicians and the media in issues of asylum. It also brings to light the different sources of renewal that have helped invigorate the British heritage.