Who Gets Believed?
When the Truth Isn't Enough
by Dina Nayeri
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Pub Date 07 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 28 Feb 2023
From the author of The Ungrateful Refugee—finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Kirkus Prize—Who Gets Believed? is a groundbreaking book about persuasion and performance that asks unsettling questions about lies, truths, and the difference between being believed and being dismissed in situations spanning asylum interviews, emergency rooms, consulting jobs, and family life
Why are honest asylum seekers dismissed as liars? Former refugee and award-winning author Dina Nayeri begins with this question, turning to shocking and illuminating case studies in this book, which grows into a reckoning with our culture’s views on believability. From persuading a doctor that she’d prefer a C-section to learning to “bullshit gracefully” at McKinsey to struggling, in her personal life, to believe her troubled brother-in-law, Nayeri explores an aspect of our society that is rarely held up to the light. For readers of David Grann, Malcolm Gladwell, and Atul Gawande, Who Gets Believed? is a book as deeply personal as it is profound in its reflections on morals, language, human psychology, and the unspoken social codes that determine how we relate to one another.
“Who Gets Believed? is an important, courageous, brilliant book; an interrogation of ‘disbelief culture’ and the injustice that both fuels it and is fuelled by it, a form-shifting memoir of an already-remarkable life, and a moving, harrowing investigation of love, loss and care.”
—Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland
“I was hugely moved by this book… To bear witness, to tell my own story in my own words, is a basic human right. And yet as Dina Nayeri’s powerful, often harrowing, but ultimately inspiring account of injustice and survival shows, millions are denied that right on an almost casual basis. Who Gets Believed? is essential reading, an extraordinary labor of love and hope that is destined to become indispensable in the continuing struggle for justice, a day when everyone has the basic right to speak the truth openly and to have their testimony heard.”
—John Burnside, author of A Lie about My Father
“A truly remarkable book, where universal and deeply personal themes are powerfully interwoven. Torture survivors and other refugees know all too well the cost of being disbelieved about their own life story. Dina Nayeri’s book is itself a masterclass in storytelling, teasing out the crucial implications of ‘who gets believed’ for all of us.”
—Steve Crawshaw, policy director at Freedom from Torture and author of Street Spirit: The Power of Protest and Mischief
“A profound, gorgeous, devastating book, exhilarating in both its compassion and its contemplation of pain. Part memoir, part—everything: reportage, criticism, history, meditation—this is a book about the many translations of grief, suffering, and hope. It is also about performance and truth, staged necessarily and most urgently by refugees seeking asylum, and seeking the belief of others. Who Gets Believed? is that rarest of creations, an original work about a condition in which we are all implicated.”
—Jeff Sharlet, bestselling author of The Family