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Abdi Nor Iftin

Aug 13, 2019 - Aug 13, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
City of Asylum
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Abdi Nor Iftin’s memoir tells the story of someone who’s desperately trying—against long odds—to make it to the United States and become an American. Abdi was a Somali refugee who fled Kenya for fear of the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab. In Kenya he got “the luckiest break of his life:” winning the lottery to land on a short list for a U.S. visa. This was his ticket out. But before he could cash in his golden ticket, the police start raiding his neighborhood, targeting refugees.

Parts of Abdi’s story were first heard on the BBC World Service and This American LifeNow a proud resident of Maine, on the path to citizenship, Abdi Nor Iftin’s dramatic, deeply stirring memoir is truly a story for our time: a vivid reminder of why America still beckons to those looking to make a better life.

Featured Writer:

Abdi Nor Iftin currently lives in Maine. He is studying political science at the University of Southern Maine, and he plays soccer every Saturday in a melting-pot league of Americans and immigrants from around the world.


“Iftin’s account of his journey does not mince words or attempt to soften the worst atrocities he and his family experienced. Loyal and grateful to his mother, he shows particular sensitivity to the injustices suffered by women in Somalia. Told simply and well, Iftin’s story explains the incredible bravery and hope necessary to live in the crosshairs of war and to find a way out.” —Jane Constantineau, The New York Journal of Books

“Riveting… [Abdi Nor Iftin] had to endure famine, war, a precarious life as a refugee, and a visa-rejecting bureaucracy before a green-card lottery win, in 2014, enabled him to emigrate. His narrative is both panoramic and particular, full of irreverent asides, and suffused with appreciation for the humanity of others.”—The New Yorker

“Absolutely remarkable and always as compelling as a novel… An essential ur-immigrant story, one that is enlightening and immediate.”—Booklist (Starred Review)

“[A] wrenching yet hopeful autobiography… Iftin’s extraordinary saga is not just a journey of self-advancement but a quest to break free from ethnic and sectarian hatreds.”—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

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