Atia Abawi is an author, foreign correspondent, and award-winning journalist. Born a refugee to Afghan parents in West Germany and raised in the United States, Atia has reported on war, conflicts and international crises in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Egypt, Kenya and Israel. Her first book for teens, The Secret Sky, is a critically acclaimed love story set during the current war in Afghanistan and won an Amelia Bloomer Award. She was also named a Publisher’s Weekly Flying Start, honoring debut novelists whose first book shows success and promise.
In today’s episode, Atia shares the story of her parents’ terrifying journey to find refuge in Germany and why it’s crucial for her to humanize the refugee crisis we see today through her latest novel, “A Land of Permanent Goodbyes”. We discuss the pain she felt day-after-day researching this novel, and why she made the specific choice of narrating the novel through the voice of Destiny.
Further into our discussion, we also learn how Atia transitioned from a journalism background of reporting facts to writing a novel where writers normally rely on creativity and imagination.
Atia is also taking over our Instagram stories from her visit to Bangkok so be sure to follow us on Instagram by clicking here!
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“I’m glad that I’m nervous when I ask because I feel like that means I still care about the people that I’m talking to.”
“My imagination was gone because of my journalism. What I did do was put in reality as deep and as best as I could. The sparkles on the water that shimmered like diamonds, that’s real.”
“It got to the point where your dreams no longer just belong to you.”
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
- How Atia began her career in journalism and how she continued to persevere
- Atia shares the story of her parents’ terrifying journey to find refuge in Germany
- We discover why it was crucial for Atia to write “A Land of Permanent Goodbyes” and how she humanizes the refugee crisis we see today through her novel
- We learn why she made the specific choice of narrating the novel through the voice of Destiny
- Atie walks us through how she transitioned from a journalism background of reporting facts to writing a novel, a career that normally relies on creativity and imagination
Learn More About “A Land of Permanent Goodbyes”
“From award-winning journalist Abawi comes an unforgettable novel that brings readers face to face with the global refugee crisis…A heartbreaking, haunting, and necessary story that offers hope while laying bare the bleakness of the world.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Foreign correspondent and award-winning journalist Atia Abawi gives readers an unflinching look at the Syrian refugee crisis in her new novel, A LAND OF PERMANENT GOODBYES. Based on her thorough research and interviews with refugees and aid workers in the region, Abawi’s novel is a raw, devastating account of a Syrian teenager and his family’s harrowing journey to escape war.
After a horrific air strike destroys their home and kills most of their family, Tareq, and his surviving family members make a painful decision to flee Syria. As they travel from Syria to Turkey to Greece, facing danger at every turn, Tareq is an eyewitness to unspeakable horrors, uncertain of where this path will take him as he moves ever further from his home.
Narrated by Destiny, this heartbreaking story of the consequences of war shows the Syrian conflict as part of a long chain of struggles spanning through time. The novel touches on the reactions of those close to the refugee crisis, from xenophobic citizens to the volunteers who are eager to help. This multi-faceted story, ripped from the headlines, will stay with you long after you finish reading. A LAND OF PERMANENT GOODBYES asks readers to look at this crisis with compassion and embrace empathy.
Learn More About Atia Abawi
Atia Abawi’s powerful words are all the more striking because they’re based in reality—both the reality of the current refugee crisis and her family’s history. Born a refugee to Afghan parents in West Germany and raised in the United States, Abawi has reported on war, conflicts and international crises in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Egypt, Kenya and Israel. Her first book for teens, The Secret Sky, is a critically acclaimed love story set during the current war in Afghanistan and won an Amelia Bloomer Award. She was also named a Publisher’s Weekly Flying Start, honoring debut novelists whose first book shows success and promise. Abawi lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Conor Powell and their son Arian, where she covers stories unfolding in the Middle East and the surrounding areas.
Books & Resources Mentioned in Katherine’s Episode:
International Rescue Committee (IRC)