Asylum and Exile is the result of several months of personal outreach to refugees and asylum seekers that goes behind the headlines to reveal the humanity, tragedy, and bravery of the individuals who have left everything behind to seek sanctuary from violence in the UK. Bidisha offers moving stories of refugees who have fled war, violent persecution, or civil unrest in countries as diverse as Cameroon, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Malawi, Burundi, the Congo, and Sierra Leone. Some of the individuals have been in the UK for a few months, others for more than a decade. Bidisha chronicles their experiences, revealing that though many used to be mathematicians, composers, criminologists, accountants, and teachers, in England, without money and papers authorizing them to work, they must work illegally as cleaners, factory workers, dishwashers, health care assistants, and at other unstable, unseen, underpaid, and grueling jobs. Their London life is one of trying to survive on five pounds a day, of interminable bus journeys across the capital, appointments with legal aid workers, and reliance on near-strangers to get a foothold with little or no support.
Despite this, as Bidisha shows, their unerring humor, vivacity, talent, and will to survive is a testament to the blazing resilience of the human spirit.