Featuring Patience Agbabi, Jade Amoli-Jackson, Chris Cleave, Stephen Collis, Inua Ellams, Abdulrazak Gurnah, David Herd, Marina Lewycka, Avaes Mohammad, Hubert Moore, Ali Smith, Dragan Todorovic, Carol Watts & Michael Zand
Two unaccompanied children travel across the Mediterranean in an overcrowded boat that has been designed to only make it halfway across…
A 63-year-old man is woken one morning by border officers ‘acting on a tip-off’ and, despite having paid taxes for 28 years, is suddenly cast into the detention system with no obvious means of escape…
An orphan whose entire life has been spent in slavery – first on a Ghanaian farm, then as a victim of trafficking – writes to the Home Office for help, only to be rewarded with a jail sentence and indefinite detention…
These are not fictions. Nor are they testimonies from some distant, brutal past, but the frighteningly common experiences of Europe’s new underclass – its refugees. While those with ‘citizenship’ enjoy basic human rights (like the right not to be detained without charge for more than 14 days), people seeking asylum can be suspended for years in Kafka-esque uncertainty. Here, poets and novelists retell the stories of individuals who have direct experience of Britain’s policy of indefinite immigration detention. Presenting their accounts anonymously, as modern day counterparts to the pilgrims’ stories in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, this book offers rare, intimate glimpses into otherwise untold suffering.
All profits go to the Gatwick Detainee Welfare Group and Kent Help for Refugees
' Refugee Tales is a wonderful way of re-humanising some of the most vulnerable and demonised people on the planet. This collection is both challenging and poignant. Readers will surely be moved to move their leaders to action.'
– Shami Chakrabarti
'We hear so many of the wrong words about refugees - ugly, limiting, unimaginative words - that it feels like a gift to find here so many of the right words which allow us to better understand the lives around us, and our own lives too.'
- Kamila Shamsie
'In a terrible political year, I found Refugee Tales salutary, invigorating, and enlivening. A courageous book, it offers the reader great solace. It gives faces to the faceless, and voices to the voiceless, humanizing the people that our society demonizes.'
- Jackie Kay's Pick's of the Year (2016) in The Scottish Review of Books
"Every tale is different, yet each speaks of vulnerable people in inhumane situations. Refugee Tales is a much-needed collection, providing vital insight into the lives of people who are, by their circumstances, dehumanised and left unable to communicate their experiences."
Ali Smith’s ‘The Detainee’s Tale’ is available on the Guardian website.
Listen to Patience Agbabi talk about her story 'The Refugee's Tale' on BBC Radio 4's Start the Week (16 May, 2016) 'World on the Move', available here.
Listen to Editor Anna Pincus and author Patience Agbabi talk on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour (15 June, 2016), edited by Jackie Kay
Read a summary of the project in The Guardian
Read a summary of the project in The Independent
Read Chris Cleave's story 'The Lorry Driver's Tale' in The Irish Times
Listen to Ali Smith and David Herd discuss the collection on the Guardian Books Podcast (24 June, 2016)
Editor David Herd's article 'Outside the Skin of Language' in Times Literary Supplement
'A good book can forge powerful empathies' - The National
Read contributor Inua Ellams' blog about the Refugee Tales project on the Wasafiri website, part 1 and part 2
Refugee Tales discussed on Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence programme (3 July, 2016)
Read Olivia Laing's column on Refugee Tales in The Observer
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- 23 Jun 2016