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One of two protagonists, a young man working in advertising in an unnamed city who falls in love with Nadia. He is romantic, thoughtful, and family-oriented. The loss of his father and the sense of comfort he finds in the familiar makes migration extremely difficult for Saeed because he feels alone and intimidated. Although he initially admires Nadia’s independence, he finds her avoidance of people from their country and qualms about religion unnerving. As he moves west, Saeed finds a balance between enjoying the new and desiring the familiar by joining a primarily Black religious organization.
Read an in-depth analysis of Saeed.
One of two protagonists, an independent young woman who falls in love with Saeed. Nadia makes an effort to appear intimidating and standoffish by wearing a black robe that marks her as conservative and religious despite being neither. She loves exploring new cultures and people and adapts readily to new environments. Although she initially finds Saeed’s sense of wonder romantic and his care for her charming, she later considers him too conventional, and the way his sense of wonder ties to his religious piety becomes off-putting.
Read an in-depth analysis of Nadia.
A caring husband and father who puts his son’s needs before his own. Even as everything in the city worsens, he worries not about his own future but about Saeed’s. The death of Saeed’s mother intensifies his focus on Saeed because he doesn’t want to live in a future without her. For both of these reasons, he declines to journey through the doors with Saeed and Nadia. He’s pragmatic, making Nadia promise not to marry Saeed but only to stay until he’s settled.
Read an in-depth analysis of Saeed’s father.
A former schoolteacher, loving wife, and mother who worries greatly about Saeed. She panics about Saeed not coming home after the attack on the stock exchange. She loves Saeed’s father very much, and they enjoy a mutually satisfying romantic and emotional relationship. As the violence in their city worsens, she attempts to hide her emotional turmoil by taking anxiety medication. When she dies from stray gunfire, Nadia moves into the house to help replace the emotional stability she offered.
A girl of around eighteen or nineteen who volunteers to help the refugees living outside of Mykonos’s Old Town. She bandages Nadia’s arm and quickly forms a friendship with her. She later becomes the first woman who makes Nadia question her sexuality.
Nadia and Saeed’s neighbor in the London house, an elderly and regal woman. She respects Nadia because Nadia often helps her up the stairs, and her approval secures Nadia’s welcome at the elder council meetings.
A tough young woman from Nigeria who makes sharp comments about the other residents of the London house. She’s the only resident who doesn’t respect Nadia, and she intimidates Saeed.
A fatherly man from Nadia and Saeed’s country who lives in London. He is deeply religious and believes that the martyrdom of the refugees could potentially be a good outcome.
A black preacher of Saeed’s religion who lives in Marin. His approach to religion involves community action and charity work, which Saeed greatly admires.
A beautiful young woman whom Saeed falls in love with in Marin. Patient and a good listener, she is also a community organizer and charity worker.
One of Nadia’s coworkers at the Sausalito co-op and eventually her girlfriend. She loves music and food and reminds Nadia of a cowboy.
An angry man and implied gang member who attacks two Filipino women he sees emerge from a door.
An old man who wishes the young officers rounding up refugees considered him a peer. When he realizes they don’t, he feels displaced.
A young woman who goes to help protect migrants when a nativist mob attacks them. Although she’s intimidated by the angry stares the men on public transit give her because of her pro-refugee pins, she’s determined to stand up for the vulnerable.
A suicidal middle-aged man who gets a second chance at life when he decides to go through the door that appears in his flat and moves to Namibia.
A woman who has worked in the U.S. for most of her young daughter’s life trying to earn enough money to bring her over the border.
A man who likes to sit on his balcony and forms a friendship and then a romantic relationship with the wrinkled Brazilian man. Although he initially is skeptical, he finds the wrinkled man’s demeanor disarming.
A painter who goes through a door to Amsterdam daily in order to see the elderly Dutchman. The two eventually begin a romantic relationship.
An elderly woman who has lived in the same house for her entire life. Despite this fact, she feels as though she has moved because of all the ways the world has changed around her.
A mute woman who looks old before her time. She has low self-esteem and believes that she must stay in her village because the people there tolerate her.
A sensitive man who is distraught over having to close his business.
Nadia’s ex-boyfriend. Because of his cool demeanor, Nadia assumes that he’s not serious about her even though he’s infatuated.
One of the British people who oversees Nadia’s construction crew. He and his wife have lunch together every day and eventually befriend the refugees who work under them.
A supervisor at the London work camp who eats lunch with her husband and the work crew every day. Although most people assume she’s British, she’s an immigrant from decades before the door crisis.
A responsible supervisor at the London work camp who eats lunch with his underlings. Nevertheless, when Saeed thanks him for helping the refugees, he doesn’t speak to Saeed.
A mysterious man in Saeed and Nadia’s country who finds a door for them to go through in exchange for money. He has a frightening voice and unnerves Nadia and Saeed.
A religious and controlling man. While never physically violent, he often lost his temper with Nadia during her childhood.
A meek and religious woman.