The extraordinary story of a refugee football team and the transformation of a small American town.
Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical Southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement centre in the 1990s, becoming home to scores of families in flight from the world's war zones - from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly Clarkston's streets were filled with women wearing the hijab, the smells of cumin and curry, and kids of all colours playing football in any open space they could find. Among them was Luma Mufleh, a Jordanian woman who founded a youth football team to unify Clarkston's refugee children and keep them off the streets. These kids named themselves the Fugees.
Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees and their charismatic coach. Warren St. John documents the lives of a diverse group of young people as they miraculously coalesce into a band of brothers, while also drawing a fascinating portrait of a fading American town struggling to accommodate its new arrivals. At the centre of the story is fiery Coach Luma, who relentlessly drives her players to success on the football field while holding together their lives - and the lives of their families - in the face of a series of daunting challenges.
This fast-paced chronicle of a single season is a complex and inspiring tale of a small town becoming a global community - and an account of the ingenious and complicated ways we create a home in a changing world.
"A brilliant and empathetic depiction of our common quest for meaning and happiness. Warren St. John invites us into the lives of a community of refugees, their bewildered neighbors in a small town, and a Jordanian woman who not only coaches but also mentors, mothers, and inspires some remarkable boys, to create a heartwarming tale about the transformations that occur when our disparate lives connect." Ishmael Beah
"Truly unforgettable, Outcasts United offers a stirring lesson in the power of a single person to transform the lives of many. It's an incisive window into the world ahead for all of us, where cultural diversity won't be an ideal or a course requirement or a corporate initiative but a fact of life that has to be wrestled with and reconciled, if never quite resolved." Reza Aslan
About the author
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Warren St. John is currently a reporter for the New York Times. He has also written extensively for The New Yorker, the New York Observer, and Wired. He went to Columbia University and lives in New York.