The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon


The Bone Sparrow was one of the first books I read in 2017 and I’m ashamed to admit that I was shamefully ignorant of the refugee crisis in Australia beforehand. My knowledge is very Euro-centric and it’s something I need to work on. This book highlighted the human rights abuses towards Rohingya refugees from Mayanmar in Australia detention camps.

The narrator, a boy born in such a camp,  navigates the cruelty of the camp guards, the quiet depression of his mother, the fleeting safety of his best friend and the cynicism of his sister in a lyrical, child-like way. He reads to a local girl who sneaks in at night and watches as tensions rise within the camp with devastating consequences.

It’s a tragic story because it’s grounded in such a horrific reality. Endorsed by Amnesty International, Subhi’s story is one of millions of Muslim refugees around the world who are treated with cruelty and suspicion and are vilified by mainstream medias.

Of course, it’s also a story that needs to be told by refugees in their own words, and I’m seeking more and more diaspora stories written by people with that experience (if anyone has any recommendations then please let me know!) because it’s important that they tell their own stories.

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