Jessica Goudeau

Critically Acclaimed Nonfiction Writer
J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize
Travels from: Austin, TX

“Simply brilliant, both in its granular storytelling and its enormous compassion”  The New York Times Book Review

Jessica Goudeau is a journalist, professor, producer, and advocate. Her first nonfiction book, After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America, won the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize and a Christopher Award, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice book, World Magazine’s “Understanding the World” Book of the Year, a Library Journal “Best Social Science Book of the Year,” and one of Chicago Public Library’s “Best Books of 2020.”

She has been an as-told-to columnist about displaced people and those living in war zones for Catapult, and has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times, among other places. She is currently working on her next nonfiction book for Viking called We Were Illegal. She produced a mini-documentary series called “Ask a Syrian Girl” for Teen Vogue, and “A Line Birds Cannot See,” a short documentary distributed by The New Yorker.

She co-founded a nonprofit for Burmese refugee artisans in Austin that successfully ended after seven years when the last artisan found full-time employment. She has a PhD in literature from the University of Texas and currently teaches narrative nonfiction at Wilkes University.

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After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America

Viking |

“Simply brilliant, both in its granular storytelling and its enormous compassion” –The New York Times Book Review

The story of two refugee families and their hope and resilience as they fight to survive and belong in America

The welcoming and acceptance of immigrants and refugees have been central to America’s identity for centuries–yet America has periodically turned its back in times of the greatest humanitarian need. After the Last Border is an intimate look at the lives of two women as they struggle for the twenty-first century American dream, having won the “golden ticket” to settle as refugees in Austin, Texas.

Mu Naw, a Christian from Myanmar struggling to put down roots with her family, was accepted after decades in a refugee camp at a time when America was at its most open to displaced families; and Hasna, a Muslim from Syria, agrees to relocate as a last resort for the safety of her family–only to be cruelly separated from her children by a sudden ban on refugees from Muslim countries. Writer and activist Jessica Goudeau tracks the human impacts of America’s ever-shifting refugee policy as both women narrowly escape from their home countries and begin the arduous but lifesaving process of resettling in Austin–a city that would show them the best and worst of what America has to offer.

After the Last Border situates a dramatic, character-driven story within a larger history–the evolution of modern refugee resettlement in the United States, beginning with World War II and ending with current closed-door policies–revealing not just how America’s changing attitudes toward refugees have influenced policies and laws, but also the profound effect on human lives.

White Christian nationalism and the damage it has caused

The art of social change (how literature changed public opinion in the past, present, and future)

Centering women's voices when talking about conflicts or war

Dismantling harmful immigration stereotypes and tropes

How to Humanize: What the word "humanize" reveals about US culture

The truth about the complicated nature of resettlement

The past and future of refugee resettlement in the US

American identity and how it shapes our policies toward newcomers

Telling Refugee Stories: A Conversation with Kao Kalia Yang and Jessica Goudeau

Collegeville Connections: Telling Refugee Stories

Jessica’s Upcoming Events

Jessica’s Recent Work

Honors, Awards & Recognition

New York Times Editors’ Choice Book Award Winner
Library Journal “Best Social Science Book of the Year”
Chicago Public Library’s “Best Books of 2020”

Media Kit

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