More to the Story: Conversations with Refugees (Rosemary Sayer, Margaret River Press)
‘If the Taliban caught me they would slowly cut off my body parts: one finger one day, another one tomorrow, an ear the next day, a hand a few days later,’ explains John Nazary on his decision to take the risky journey to Australia by boat. As a persecuted Hazara in Afghanistan, these were the terrible choices he faced. More to the Story: Conversations with Refugees consists of a series of in-depth interviews with refugees from Burma, Afghanistan and South Sudan. Rosemary Sayer, a former journalist, sensitively explores human stories that are full of tragedy and courage. For Australians who have always enjoyed stable government, a prosperous economy and social cohesion, it is a shock to read of those fleeing murderous regimes, dire poverty and deep ethnic hatreds. People are violently separated from their families, tortured and spend years of uncertainty in refugee camps. Sayer’s book is a welcome addition to the literature on Australia’s refugee experience. She mixes research, her own personal journey and a range of compelling refugee stories that exhibit extraordinary personal strength and resilience. More to the Story fulfils its brief admirably: it provides understanding, depth and nuance to a subject that is often discussed in heated headlines.
Chris Saliba is co-owner of North Melbourne Books and a freelance reviewer