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The Road from Raqqa


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Crossing years and continents, the harrowing story of the road to reunion for two Syrian brothers who-despite diverging ideals, a homeland at war and an ocean between them-hold fast to the bonds of family.

About the Author

Jordan Ritter Conn is a staff writer for The Ringer. He previously worked at Grantland and ESPN- The Magazine, and he has written for The New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His work has been cited or recognized by The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Slate.


"Jordan Ritter Conn's riveting debut book, The Road from Raqqa, is a well-wrought portrait of two brothers, Riyad and Bashar Alkasem, and their journeys out of Syria. . . . The book portrays Syria and the United States as multifaceted and complex, both capable of generosity and oppression, with histories as interconnected as the brothers' own. . . . As complicated and ever-shifting as their views of Syria and the United States are, the brothers' affection for Raqqa is unwavering. Conn translates their memories into a resplendent love letter to an obliterated city."-The New York Times

The Road from Raqqa
had me gripped from the first page. I couldn't put it down. It taught me a lot about a troubled political system that has led to one of the worst humanitarian crises of our times. But it is also about love and family, about tradition and new horizons and the deep complexities of our own fears and hopes."-Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo

"A work of dazzling emotional power-a gorgeously written exploration of how we cope with seismic loss and how we muster the strength to build again . . . You will come away from this book in awe of its characters' resilience, as well as grateful for Jordan Ritter Conn's loving devotion to the art of journalism."-Brendan I. Koerner, author of The Skies Belong to Us

"Jordan Ritter Conn has constructed an achingly beautiful story that, by some miracle, takes in the epic sweep of the modern Middle East, the continuous whiplash of immigrant life in America, and the depths of brotherly love."-Steve Fainaru, author of League of Denial

"Stunning . . . Jordan Ritter Conn has taken a true story, in some ways so simple-two brothers taking different paths in a world shattered by politics and war-and layered within it a profound meditation on family, freedom, human resilience, and home."-Evan Ratliff, author of The Mastermind

"Jordan Ritter Conn writes with a novelist's grace, giving us both sides of the family's epic migration story as the brothers find themselves on opposing sides of global conflict and keep trying to find each other again and again, despite the way the world pulls them in different directions. I couldn't put it down."-Helen Thorpe, author of The Newcomers

"A poignant debut . . . Fluidly written and emotionally powerful, this page-turner reveals the human cost of war, terrorism, xenophobia, and anti-immigration rhetoric. Readers will find despair and hope in this moving account."-
Publishers Weekly

"Syrian brothers take different paths of immigration, neither easy, in this thoughtful account. . . . [Jordan Ritter] Conn's affecting narrative touches deeply not just on these contrasting immigration issues . . . but also on how the bonds of family and old community can exist even when people are uprooted."-Kirkus Reviews

"The parallel stories of the brothers' lives are informative and deeply moving. The emotional narrative of their Syrian home will help people better understand why people choose to leave and why others stay."-Library Journal

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