POLITICAL SCIENCE

No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison

Anansi International. Jul. 2019. 416p. ISBN 9781487006839. pap. $18.95ebk. ISBN 9781487006846. POL SCI
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In 2013, Kurdish journalist Boochani was illegally detained on Manus Island, a refugee detention site off the coast of Australia founded by the Australian government. He has been there ever since. Over a period of five years, the author recorded his experiences by text message to his first interpreter and translator, Moones Mansoubi, who organized them based on Boochani’s instructions. Translator Omid Tofighian continues the story. The result is a modern classic of prison literature, even if the entire episode wasn’t technically in a prison but a detention center in Papua New Guinea. The mix of genres addresses what it means to be human and a refugee in countries that have become, in their response to the crisis, a modern version of Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil.” Boochani provides a personal look at what is happening in these gray zones of the borderlands.
VERDICT This book has already received several awards for literature from the very government that caused the humanitarian crisis on Manus Island. Here readers will find a powerful firsthand account of how governments have created sites of state violence against people searching for freedom.

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