Homes: A Refugee Story is nominated for Canada Reads


Homes: A Refugee Story, by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winne Yeung, is a Canada Reads nominee! It is the only Alberta-published book on the longlist. The shortlist and the panellists will be announced on January 31, and the debates will take place between March 25 and 28, 2019

Homes follows the life of the al Rabeeah family, who left their home in Iraq in hopes of a safer life. They moved to Homs, Syria. Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was just ten years old when civil war broke out on the streets around him. Homes is a remarkable true account of growing up in a war zone and ultimately finding safety in Canada, told from Abu Bakr’s perspective. It is a story that he had a deep-seated desire to share with Canadians.

Winnie Yeung has expertly crafted this story, drawing on countless hours of interviews with Abu Bakr and his family. The result is a beautifully-written, eye-opening book that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.  In an interview with CBC books, Yeung reflected on the process of helping to tell the al Rabeeah family’s story: “Listening became the thing that I had to learn how to do…. To be able to just sit back and be quiet and let Abu Bakr tell the story that he needed to…. Now I’m realizing that is the best gift that we can give to anyone who’s going through any kind of trauma, big or small, just to listen.”

This is the second major accolade for Homes since it was published in May, 2018. In October, it was also nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction.

Canada Reads is an annual “Battle of Books” that airs on CBC radio and is hosted by Ali Hassan. Taking place at the end of March, it is a week of debates where five Canadian celebrities each champion one book that they think every Canadian should read. Every day, the panellists vote one book out of the debates until there is a single book left standing. The complete longlist is as follows:

  • Homes by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah & Winnie Yeung
  • Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, translated by Rhonda Mullins
  • Brother by David Chariandy
  • By Chance Alone by Max Eisen
  • Corvus by Harold R. Johnson
  • The Boy on the Beach by Tima Kurdi
  • That Time I Loved You by Carrianne Leung
  • An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim
  • Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
  • The Crazy Game by Clint Malarchuk, with Dan Robson
  • Life on the Ground Floor by James Maskalyk
  • All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
  • This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
  • The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary by Andrew Westoll
  • The Woo-Woo by Lindsay Wong

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