Tima Kurdi’s tragic story about how her family became an international symbol during the Syrian refugee crisis has been listed as one of 15 books in the Canada Reads long list for 2019.
The Coquitlam woman learned via Twitter that she was selected by the CBC for the list, which will be whittled down to five for further debate at the end of the month.
“It’s like a dream. It was really an honor to see my book made it to the long list,. It’s really beautiful to see this. I was very happy, but I would say, to be honest, it would not make it to this list if it wasn’t for my publisher, my great agent, my editor, all the readers across the world — without them this book would not make it,” Kurdi said.
The past year has gone by quickly for Kurdi with much of her time touring the world to promote the book Boy On the Beach: A Syrian Family’s Story of Love, Loss and Hope During the Global Refugee Crisis.
One of the things Kurdi said she learned from the experience was how many people have enjoyed the book and she was gratified to hear that her book provided comfort for some and inspiration for others.
“They told me this book opened their eyes and hearts. After they read my book [they realized] they’re taking everything for granted and we need to help others because we are all the same.”
During her travels, which took Kurdi across Canada and to Europe, Kurdi got to visit her father in her childhood home in Damascus and reconnect with all she loved in the Syrian capital city.
“The view from the roof top is the whole world, it’s so beautiful,” Kurdi said.
She also helped distribute school uniforms to refugee children in camps in Kurdistan, with her brother Abdullah, whose wife Rehanna, and sons Ghalib and Alan, died in the crossing between Bodrom and Kos in September of 2015.
It was a photo of little Alan Kurdi on the beach that galvanized efforts to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis, particularly in Canada.
Now that the book has been published, Tima Kurdi continues to travel and talk about her book and meet with others who have been inspired by the book’s hopeful message.
As well, she is working with her brother to continue to fundraise for the Alan and Ghalib Kurdi Foundation, with the goal of helping refugee children, and perhaps Syrian children orphaned by war.
“There’s lots of orphans that were affected by war, it would be nice to focus on that in the future,” Kurdi said.