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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

Named a Best Nonfiction Book of 2021 by Kirkus

A stunning and heartbreaking lens on the global refugee crisis, from a man who faced the very worst of humanity and survived to advocate for displaced people around the world

One day when Mondiant Dogon, a Bagogwe Tutsi born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was only three years old, his father’s lifelong friend, a Hutu man, came to their home with a machete in his hand and warned the family they were to be killed within hours. Dogon’s family fled into the forest, initiating a long and dangerous journey into Rwanda. They made their way to the first of several UN tent cities in which they would spend decades. But their search for a safe haven had just begun.

Hideous violence stalked them in the camps. Even though Rwanda famously has a former refugee for a president in Paul Kagame, refugees in that country face enormous prejudice and acute want. For much of his life, Dogon and his family ate barely enough to keep themselves from starving. He fled back to Congo in search of the better life that had been lost, but there he was imprisoned and left without any option but to become a child soldier.

For most refugees, the camp starts as an oasis but soon becomes quicksand, impossible to leave. Yet Dogon managed to be one of the few refugees he knew to go to college. Though he hid his status from his fellow students out of shame, eventually he would emerge as an advocate for his people.

Rarely do refugees get to tell their own stories. We see them only for a moment, if at all, in flight: Syrians winding through the desert; children searching a Greek shore for their parents; families gathered at the southern border of the United States. But through his writing, Dogon took control of his own narrative and spoke up for forever refugees everywhere.

As Dogon once wrote in a poem, “Those we throw away are diamonds.”

©2021 Mondiant Dogon (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Throughout this memoir, Dogon shares stories about his family and their efforts to find safety. His plea is that the world does not forget the many refugees still living in stateless purgatory. Verdict: Those interested in international relations, immigration, and social work will find Dogon’s firsthand account essential reading.” (Library Journal

“An eloquent and necessary plea for compassion for war refugees everywhere.... In a beautifully heartfelt, plainspoken account, a refugee from the Congo-Rwanda wars breaks his silence to reveal his family’s story of fleeing their home amid unimaginable violence.... With the assistance of journalist Krajeski, Dogon movingly, tragically describes the trauma he and his family endured. The pain was so deep that even among them, they could not talk about what they had witnessed, which led to a terrible, debilitating silence.... Now, Dogon is able to advocate for the plight of all who suffer the terrors of civil war. Throughout, he delivers effectively vivid details of his life and culture, and it’s clear that he is dedicated to helping others in similar terrible circumstances.” (Kirkus, starred review) 

“In Those We Throw Away Are Diamonds, we enter into the life and world of Mondiant Dogon, an exceptional young person, who has lived far beyond his years. The story is full of wisdom, goodwill, and the grace that human beings can deliver each other - even as the battles wage around us. It is a refusal to throw away memories of hardship and hope, of resilience and tragedies, of the conditions of our world and the circumstances that might lift us above the fray to offer kindness and care.” (Kao Kalia Yang, author of Somewhere in the Unknown World)

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Best book I ever read

reading (listening) this book has revealed me the story of a Friend (Mondiant) I met at the internations Gathering in NYC. I briefly discussed with him but he was full of energy. Now I understand why... after going through this book. I am pleased to meet his path in the US. I am a Malian Asylum Seeker here too. I feel more close to Mondiant after reading (listening) to this book. He will always be a great Friend... Ibrahima Dia