BOOK REVIEW: Alien Shores (ed by Sharon Rundle & Meenakshi Bharat, Brass Monkey Books)

Alien Shores is a heartbreaking glimpse into the lives of displaced people who have fled their homes, lost family and friends, and struggled to survive. Long after their ordeal, the scars remain. This collection of literary short stories explores the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers within Australia and the Indian subcontinent. The collection begins with some shocking tales and ends on a heartwarming note. Indian author Amitav Ghosh writes about the 1979 massacre of refugees in Morichjhapi in his short story on the discovery of a late husband’s journal, which expands on the narrative of his powerful 2005 novel The Hungry Tide (HarperPerennial). Arnold Zable writes about the people displaced by burning villages during the Vietnam War and the disturbed US soldiers contemplating desertion. Jamil Ahmad tells of a woman seeking refuge in a military watchtower near a border crossing after she loses her tribe. Abdul Karim Hekut illustrates the cruelty of the bureaucrat. Sharon Rundle turns Australians into refugees in her speculative fiction tale. And Ali Alizadeh turns the Australian refugee activist story on its head. This book reminds us that we are all members of the human family and those who are born elsewhere or with different ideas on life should be treated with as much respect as any of our closer neighbours.

Andrew Wrathall is publishing assistant at Bookseller+Publisher. Alien Shores will be launched by Julian Burnside at Readings Carlton at 6:30pm, 21 May.