To be a poet one needs the six P’s – the pencil, the paper, the perception, the passion, the persistence and the unshakable persuasion that the poem is in fact possible and attainable. - Grace Perry

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Books I have read - The People Smuggler by Robin de Crespigny

I have read some amazing novels, short stories and poems so far this summer including The People Smuggler by Robin de Crespigny. This incredibly moving biography should be on everyone's must-read-list.

Ali Al Jenabi's story is an important one, particularly in-light of current political discussions surrounding how to manage asylum seekers in Australia. Crespigny's writing style and dedication to Jenabi's story is clear in the way that she captures the voice of Jenabi and the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, hope, joy and love that has been part of his journey.

There are sections within this book that are shocking and painful to read. When Jenabi first arrives in Sydney, in 2003, he is forced to strip in-front of multiple police officers and an interpreter: "...they force me to undress, then they hold me down while one of them puts on a latex glove..." (294). Another, more horrifying, event happens when Jenabi is in Villawood Detention Centre, in 2007: "...I hear screaming... It looks like a woman is being held down by four guards while two others supervise. Then one kneels next to her. Suddenly the screaming fades, she stops struggling and they drag her away" (328). After witnessing this terror Jenabi finds that asylum seekers who are refused refugee status are often deported in the early hours of the morning to avoid media attention: "The men are handcuffed and the women are forcibly injected with tranquillisers..." (328).

I hope that all Australians are made familiar with Jenabi's story and learn from it empathy for asylum seekers who flee nightmarish situations, such as Jenabi and his family have fled, as well as the humanity of so called 'boat people'.

The People Smuggler is available from various book stores, including Penguin and Amazon.

For a more detailed review of this book please check out the ABC Unleased.