Fort Greene

Fort Greene’s Unbound Lit Series returns Feb. 12

Brooklyn BookBeat

January 22, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Author Ben Rawlence will speak at BAM on Feb. 12. Photo by Jonny Donovan, courtesy of BAM
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Unbound: A Book Launch Series with Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and Greenlight Bookstore returns on Feb. 12 with author Ben Rawlence for the release of “City of Thorns.” Rawlence will be joined by Somali-born musician K’naan to discuss the unique combination of storytelling and sociopolitical investigative journalism in his new book.

In “City of Thorns,” which provides an account of nine youths living in the Dadaab refugee settlement in northern Kenya, Rawlence interweaves their stories to show what life is like in the camp and to sketch the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped there. Using these varied narratives, Rawlence delves deep into the harrowing impasse facing the residents of the camps. They are caught between war in Somalia, indefinite incarceration in Kenya and an illegal, dangerous and expensive journey to a better life in Europe.

In The New York Times review of the book, Caroline Moorhead describes it as “a portrait, beautifully and movingly painted. And it is more than that … it is an important reminder that a vast majority of the world’s refugees never get as far as a boat or a border of the developed world.”

Rawlence is a former researcher for Human Rights Watch in the Horn of Africa. He is the author of “Radio Congo” and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, The London Review of Books and Prospect. He lives in Wales with his family.

K’naan was born in Mogadishu in 1978 and moved to North America after the civil war broke out in 1990. During the 2011 Horn of Africa famine, he visited the Dadaab refugee camp and has been a frequent spokesman and fundraiser for refugees. K’Naan, whose name means “traveler” in Somali, is a poet, rapper, singer, songwriter and instrumentalist. He rose to prominence with the success of his single “Wavin’ Flag.”  Besides hip-hop, K’naan’s sound is influenced by elements of Somali music, Ethio-jazz and world music.

The Feb. 12 event will take place at 7:30 p.m. at BAM Fisher (Fishman Space) at 321 Ashland Place in Fort Greene. Tickets are $25 (or $45 with a book).

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