FOR the last few years, I’ve been working on a book—with the rest of the team at Behind the Wire. It’s published by Allen & Unwin, and it’s finally available in all good bookstores! In his foreword, novelist Christos Tsiolkas describes it this way: “a great and powerful chorus that sings the possibility of a hope that Australia has been denying itself”. Below, you can watch the book trailer, which features Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist currently detained on Manus Island. His is the opening story in the book, and we drew the book’s title from his words.
For more than two decades, Australia has locked up people who arrive here fleeing persecution—sometimes briefly, sometimes for years. In They Cannot Take the Sky those people tell their stories, in their own words. Speaking from inside detention on Manus Island and Nauru, or from within the Australian community after their release, the narrators reveal not only their extraordinary journeys and their daily struggles, but also their meditations on love, death, hope and injustice. Their candid testimonies are at times shocking and hilarious, surprising and devastating. They are witnesses from the edge of human experience.
The first-person narratives in They Cannot Take the Sky range from epic life stories to heartbreaking vignettes. The narrators who have shared their stories have done so despite the culture of silence surrounding immigration detention, and the real risks faced by those who speak out. Once you have heard their voices you will never forget them.