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First Featured on This American Life — Now at Alphabet City

City of Asylum (2018)

Abdi Nor Iftin

Tuesday, August 13th
7:00 pm

Abdi Nor Iftin was a Somali refugee who fled to Kenya in fear of the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab. In 2006, while living in a Kenyan refugee camp, Abdi got “the luckiest break of his life:” winning the lottery for a spot on the short list for a U.S. visa. This was his ticket out. But before he could get what was promise, the police start raiding his neighborhood, targeting refugees. Abdi had to fight and struggle, enduring years of difficulty in his quest to move to America.

Abdi visits Alphabet City to recount his story, first told as a radio-documentary on the BBC World Service and This American Life, and now in his urgent and timely memoir Call Me American.

Call Me American

“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 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

Abdi’s voice reads like an old a friend and readers can’t help but cringe at his struggles and cheer for his triumphs. Abdi’s fighting spirit and eternal optimism exude from the work and we think readers will be moved to his story in person.

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.

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