The Nansen Factor: Refugee Stories by Alexandra Grabbe

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“The stories in this impressive collection beautifully express the enrichment and estrangement of displaced lives. With a single phrase or tiny detail, Grabbe accurately captures an entire soul and the fractured, complicated state of living between worlds. A bold and engrossing debut with unforgettable characters”— Marjan Kamali, author of The Stationery and The Lion Women of Tehran

Norwegian diplomat Fridtjof Nansen created a passport for stateless persons used by refugees as a valid travel document from 1922-1937. The world is all too aware of what has happened to Russia in the century since then—Lenin, Stalin, and now Putin with his iron-fist policies and invasion of Ukraine. But what about the aristocrats whose ancestors governed Russia before Communism? How did they fare in displacement? Civil War, Red Terror, and Bolshevik rule caused over one million to flee Russia. Written by the daughter of one such émigré, The Nansen Factor traces the lives of these refugees and their descendants across a century of upheaval and displacement. From the turmoil of the Bolshevik Revolution to the echoes of the past in modern-day America, these interconnected tales vividly portray the resilience of individuals uprooted by history at a moment when migrants are once again on the move in search of refuge, highlighting how the pain of losing one’s homeland may fade, but the injury to the psyche is slow to heal.