View Gallery

Available in

Between Everything and Nothing

The Journey of Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal and the Quest for Asylum

List Price: $26.00

June 2, 2020 | Hardcover | 6.4 x 9.1, 336 pages | ISBN 9781640093140
Order Now From

A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, this harrowing true story of two young men from Ghana and their quest for asylum highlights not only the unjust political system of their homeland, but the chaos of the United States’ failing immigration system.

Long before their chance meeting at a Minneapolis bus station, Ghanaian asylum seekers Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal had already crossed half the world in search of a new home. Seidu, who identifies as bisexual, lived under constant threat of exposure and violence in a country where same-sex acts are illegal. Razak’s life was also threatened after corrupt officials contrived to steal his rightful inheritance.

Forced to flee their homeland, both men embarked on separate odysseys through the dangerous jungles and bureaucracies of South, Central, and North America. Like generations of asylum seekers before, they presented themselves legally at the U.S. border, hoping for sanctuary. Instead they were imprisoned in private detention facilities, released only after their asylum pleas were denied. Fearful of returning to Ghana, Seidu and Razak saw no choice but to attempt one final border crossing. Their journey north to Canada in the harsh, unforgiving winter proved more tragic than anything they had experienced before.

Based on extensive interviews, Joe Meno’s intimate, novelistic account builds upon the international media attention Seidu and Razak’s story has already received, highlighting the harrowing journey of asylum seekers everywhere while adding dimension to one of the greatest humanitarian concerns facing the world.

About Joe Meno

JOE MENO is a fiction writer and journalist who lives in Chicago. He is the winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Great Lakes Book Award and was a finalist for the Story Prize. The bestselling author of seven novels and two short story collections, including Marvel and a Wonder, The Boy Detective Fails, and Hairstyles of the Damned, he is a professor in the English and creative writing department at Columbia College Chicago. Find out more at


A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

"Meno vividly shows how migrants seeking refuge are inhumanely treated in many countries--disappeared into jails and detention centers, forced to pay bribes to law enforcement, left without recourse if they are robbed, and threatened with death." --Alexis Okeowo, The New York Times Book Review

"Meno brings his skills as a novelist to bear on this account of contemporary migration, alternating between journalism and flights of creative nonfiction." --Tal Rosenberg, Chicago Magazine

"Riveting . . . Accompanying these men on their journeys to Manitoba will give readers a more complex appreciation of what refugees and other immigrants are willing to suffer in order to gain the freedom which is expected in North America." --Bill Rambo, Winnipeg Free Press

"Meno puts the men's struggles in the larger context of a deeply flawed and exploitative global immigration system, delivering a powerful, nuanced perspective on a treacherous world for vulnerable people." --The National Book Review

"This book weaves comprehensive interviews together with detailed research about the United States immigration system. The result: a very human look at the particularly difficult journey faced by these two men combined with an examination of the flaws inherent in the system as a whole . . . An undeniably compelling read." --Beth Mowbray, The Nerd Daily

"In his first nonfiction book, acclaimed fiction writer Meno presents a powerful and eye-opening recounting of each asylum-seeker's harrowing odyssey, essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the current immigration crisis." --Booklist (starred review)

"If you want to be better informed about the immigration issue, you need look no further than bestselling author Joe Meno's debut nonfiction book, Between Everything and Nothing . . . [It] will prove to be an eye opener for most and a rude awakening for some." --Matt Ellis, The Coachella Review

"A suspenseful account of two Ghanaian refugees' quest for political asylum . . . Meno's well-written story of survival and friendship puts individual faces on the plight of millions of refugees around the world. Readers will be equal parts outraged and inspired by this novelistic account." --Publishers Weekly

"Meno writes deftly, with a fine sense of detail and place, bringing an all-too-common story to life. A well-paced and engaging account, highly relevant to current political debates." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Based heavily on the refugees' own accounts and supplemented by the author's research, this work will be valued by general readers interested in the stories of recent refugees." --Library Journal

"An urgent and humane page-turner . . . Between Everything and Nothing at heart stands as a vital portrait of an inhuman system and the desperate souls that it crushes." --Alan Scherstuhl, Shelf Awareness

"The most important book I've read in a long time, Between Everything and Nothing vividly dramatizes what the world needs to know about the tragic effects of our corrupt and dehumanizing immigration system. Though harrowing, the story of Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal is also deeply inspiring, revealing how two powerless but fiercely courageous asylum seekers, battered by years of injustice and cruelty, held fast to their religious faith, their dignity, and their love and hope for humanity." --Sigrid Nunez, author of The Friend

Related Products