Refugee Tales: Volume II

Edited by David Herd & Anna Pincus

Upon changing his religion, a young man is denounced as an apostate and flees his country hiding in the back of a freezer lorry…

After years of travelling and losing almost everything – his country, his children, his wife, his farm – an Afghan man finds unexpected warmth and comfort in a stranger’s home...

A student protester is forced to leave his homeland after a government crackdown, and spends the next 25 years in limbo, trapped in the UK asylum system...

Modelled on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the second volume of Refugee Tales sets out to communicate the experiences of those who, having sought asylum in the UK, find themselves indefinitely detained. Here, poets and novelists create a space in which the stories of those who have been detained can be safely heard, a space in which hospitality is the prevailing discourse and listening becomes an act of welcome.

All profits go to the Gatwick Detainee Welfare Group and Kent Help for Refugees.

Tales include:

The Smuggled Person’s Tale - Jackie Kay

The Mother’s Tale – Marina Warner

The Lover’s Tale - Kamila Shamsie

The Abandoned Person’s Tale - Olivia Laing

The Student's Tale - Helen Macdonald

The Support Worker’s Tale - Josh Cohen

The Voluntary Returner’s Tale - Caroline Bergvall

The Barrister’s Tale - Rachel Holmes

The Soldier’s Tale – Neel Mukherjee

The Walking Man's Tale – Ian Duhig

The Witness' Tale - Alex Preston

The launch of this second collection of brand new stories will be combined with a walk from Runnymede to Westminster calling for a change in the British law, to acknowledge the rights of people without citizenship, more info at


'A wonderful way of re-humanising some of the most vulnerable and demonised people on the planet.’ - Shami Chakrabarti 

'This stark short story collection will shake you to the core' - Reader's Digest

'The sensitive and extremely poignant way the accounts are communicated does them the justice they deserve' - Bethany Rielly, The Morning Star

'What a fantastic project that so successfully marries all those involved with the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group with the writers and those who shared their tales.' - Karen Argent, The Letterpress Project

'This is what literature and these stories are able to present; the breadth of these people’s lives. Something an image based media cannot hope to accomplish. But what makes Refugee Tales unique, and which also spares it from accusations of choir pandering, is the feeling of ineptitude inherent in these writers trying to express the stories of refugees.' - Mark Daniel Taylor, Disclaimer

'All the tales in the two volumes are at once deeply personal and “world-sized”, and the question of how best to convey both their specificity and their representativeness is clearly a significant one for the writers involved.' - Tom White, The Glasgow Review of Books

Read Helen Macdonald's story 'The Student's Tales' in The Irish Times

Neel Mukherjee discussed his story 'The Soldier's Tale' with Mary Barrett from the Refugee Tales charity on BBC Asian Network. Read the full transcript on The Comma Press Blog.

Watch Kamila Shamsie talk about the horrors of indefinite detention and her story 'The Lover's Tale' on Channel 4 News with Cathy Newman.

'As a witnessing of a hidden humanitarian crisis within the UK, the stories are necessary and compelling; purely on the merit of the writing, they are an excellent read. The telling of the stories is varied, but all are told with respect and a sense of responsibility to their subjects.' - Shazea Quraishi, Wasafari
Read the Wasafiri interview with Olivia Laing about her work with Refugee Tales.

Read about indefinite immigration detention and the work of Refugee Tales in The Guardian.

'A book which I hope will change the world- or at least begin to.' - Yvette Huddleston, The Yorkshire Post  

Niamh Cusack reads The Student's Tale (recorded by Denise Else at Kingston, 2nd July 2017) - listen on MacGuffin or Soundcloud

Marina Warner reads The Mother's Tale (recorded at Manchester Literature Festival, October 2017) - watch on YouTube

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Buy Single Stories

The Abandoned Person's Tale

Book Details

12 Jul 2017