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The Road From Raqqa

The Road From Raqqa

By Jordan Ritter Conn



The Alkasem brothers, Riyad and Bashar, spend their childhood in Raqqa, the city that would later became the capital of ISIS. As a teenager in the 1980s, Riyad witnesses the devastating aftermath of the Hama massacre--an atrocity by the Assad regime upon its people. Wanting to expand his notion of government and justice, Riyad moves to the United States to study the law, but his plans are derailed and he eventually falls in love with a Southern belle. They move to a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, where they raise two sons and where Riyad opens a restaurant--Cafe Rakka--cooking the food his grandmother used to make. But after over a decade of prosperity, he finds himself confronted with the darker side of American freedoms: a spike in Islamophobia after 9/11 and again during Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Then, at the height of Syria's civil war, fearing for family's safety halfway across the world, he risks his own life by making a dangerous trip back to Raqqa. Bashar, meanwhile, has never left. After his older brother moved to America, Bashar embarked on a brilliant legal career, eventually becoming a judge in the same corrupt Assad government that Riyad despised. Reluctant to abandon his comfortable (albeit conflicted) life, he fails to perceive the threat of ISIS until it's nearly too late. Leaving Raqqa brings us into the lives of two brothers bound by their love for each other and for the war-ravaged city they call home. It's about a family caught in the middle of the most significant global events of the new millennium, America's fraught-but-hopeful relationship to its own immigrants, and the toll of dictatorship and war and everyday families. It's a book that captures all the desperation, tenacity, and hope that come with the revelation that we can find home in each other when the lands of our forefathers fail us.

ISBN: 9781984817181


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