Book reviews

One of the joys of my work is to read a wide range of non-fiction and fiction books that deal with, or draw from, the asylum seeker and refugee experience. From time to time I write a book review and include it on my blog. The links to my book reviews are below.

I also have a recommended reading list for those who want to know more.

Father of the Lost Boys

Yuot A. Alaak (Fremantle Press 2020)

This is Yuot’s memoir of walking through the deserts and the jungles across three continents in Africa to seek safety after his home was destroyed in the second Civil War between North and South Sudan.  It is a remarkable testament to his grit and fortitude, but it is also an ode to his father. read more

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

Christy Lefteri (Allen and Unwin 2019)

Nuri is a beekeeper who works with his cousin and business partner, Mustafa.   He lives happily with his wife Afra who is an artist in what was the beautiful city of Aleppo in Syria. As we know brutal war with heavy bombing destroyed the city resulting in trauma and ruined lives.  Nuri and Afra are caught up in this crisis. read more

The Kabul Peace House

Mark Isaacs (Hardie Grant 2019)

The Kabul Peace House is a book of fascinating opportunity by well-known writer and community worker Mark Isaacs. If you are interested in discovering how small pockets of communities interested in peacebuilding not violence can make a difference, this is a book for you. read more

Violin Lessons

Arnold Zable (Text Publishing, 2011)

It is a favourite of mine because it explores displacement and exile in different times and settings including stories from the Jewish refugee experience through to the Greek and other European immigrant experience.  read more

Ways of being here

Raefeif Ismail, Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes, Tinashe Jakwa & Yout A Alaak (Margaret River Press, Perth, 2017)

Diverse voices matter in Australia more than ever. Ways of being here is pocket book-sized collection of four short stories that showcases the work of four talented African writers living in Australia. read more

Enlightenment of the greengage tree 

Shokoofeh Azar (Wild Dingo Press, Perth, Australia 2017)

Living a large part of her life in Iran means most of Shokoofeh’s writing has been published in Farsi. This is her first novel to be written and translated into English with Western readers in mind. It is an opportunity for us to experience the art of Persian story-telling in the style of magical realism at its best. read more

A Country of Refuge

Anthology of writing about asylum seekers edited by Lucy Popescu (Unbound, 2016)

A country too far features fiction, memoir, poetry and essays about seeking asylum by 27 of Australia’s best writers including: Anna Funder, Kim Scott, Raimond Gaita, Christos Tsiolkas, Gail Jones, Les Murray and Dorothy Hewitt.  read more

Daring to Drive

Manal Al-Sharif (Simon & Schuster, Australia 2017)

Manal has been part of a movement in the Saudi Kingdom advocating for women’s rights and the right to drive a car without a male chaperone. Her memoir Daring to Drive also gives us rare personal insights into everyday life for women in the country.  read more

They Cannot Take the Sky

Various authors (Allen & Unwin, Melbourne, 2017)

The sky is like a friend for a prisoner, because around you everything is metal fences, but the sky, they cannot take the sky.” These words are from a book of stories from people who have been detained by the Australian government for seeking asylum.  Each person reveals in their own words their journey, daily struggles, their fears, hopes and dreams. read more

City of Thorns

Ben Rawlence (Portobello, London, 2016)

No one wants to admit that the temporary camp of Dadaab has become permanent,” Ben Rawlence writes in his haunting book City of Thorns. Ben visited the camp for the first time as a researcher for Human Rights Watch. The next year he returned for what would be the first of seven separate visits to follow and write about the lives of nine inhabitants. read more