No Friend but the Mountains
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No Friend but the Mountains : The True Story of an Illegally Imprisoned Refugee

4.06 (3,523 ratings by Goodreads)
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The Award-winning International Bestselling Story of One Man's Six Year Detention in Australia

'A powerfully vivid account of the experiences of a refugee: desperation, brutality, suffering, and all observed with an eye that seems to see everything and told in a voice that's equal to the task.' - Phillip Pullman

In 2013, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani sought asylum in Australia but was instead illegally imprisoned in the country's most notorious detention centre on Manus Island. This book is the result.

Boochani spent nearly five years typing passages of this book one text at a time from a secret mobile phone in prison. Compiled and translated from Farsi, they form an incredible story of how escaping political persecution in Iran, he ended up trapped as a stateless person. This vivid, gripping portrait of his years of incarceration and exile shines devastating light on the fates of so many people, as borders close around the world.

No Friend but the Mountains is both a brave act of witness and a moving testament to the humanity of all people, in the most extreme of circumstances.

'A brilliant book. No Friend but the Mountains can rightly take its place on the shelf of world prison literature . . . It is a profound victory for a young poet who showed us all how much words can still matter.' - Richard Flanagan, Booker Prize winning author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North
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Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 129 x 196 x 27mm | 296g
  • PICADOR
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main Market Ed.
  • 1529028485
  • 9781529028485
  • 1,956

Review Text

A chant, a cry from the heart, a lament, fuelled by a fierce urgency, written with the lyricism of a poet, the literary skills of a novelist, and the profound insights of an astute observer of human behaviour and the ruthless politics of a cruel and unjust imprisonment.
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Review quote

A powerful book of witness that recalls the work of Primo Levi, and is sustained throughout by a profoundly collaborative and stunningly imagined translation. It demonstrates in every line how poetry - and translation - can also generate philosophy. Put it on every curriculum, now. -- Deborah Smith, Man Booker International Prize winning translator Under atrocious conditions [Behrouz Boochani] has managed to write and publish a record of his experiences (experiences yet to be concluded), a record that will certainly leave his jailers gnashing their teeth . . . the absorbing record of a life-transforming episode whose effects on his inner self the writer is still trying to plumb. -- J. M. Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, New York Review of Books I was weeping within minutes. Bouchani has written a devastating and visceral account of modern displacement and its indignities. It is tangible, and sensory, and rooted in the human body--it stings to turn the page and yet it's impossible to stop. It should be taught in schools as a powerful and damning account of the most astonishing collective failure of our age. -- Dina Nayeri, author of The Ungrateful Refugee A terrific book, extraordinary not only because of the near-impossible conditions in which it was written, but because it's gripping, raw, honest, brutal and also deeply humane, poetic, spirited and even at times humorous. It's a searing indictment of indefinite detention (something that still exists in the UK) and a reminder of what happens when we stop seeing migrants as human beings. -- Monica Ali, author of Brick Lane Boochani has created a book that resists classification. It overlaps with genres such as prison literature, philosophical fiction, clandestine philosophical literature, prison narratives, Australian dissident writing, Iranian political art, transnational literature, decolonial writing and the Kurdish literary tradition. * Guardian * This is a brilliant book. No Friend but the Mountains is a book that can rightly take its place on the shelf of world prison literature . . . It is a profound victory for a young poet who showed us all how much words can still matter. -- Richard Flanagan, Booker Prize winning author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North No Friend but the Mountains, quite apart from the extraordinary circumstances of its writing, gives us a powerfully vivid account of the experiences of a refugee: desperation, brutality, suffering, and all observed with an eye that seems to see everything and told in a voice that's equal to the task. -- Phillip Pullman Not for the faint-hearted, it's a powerful, devastating insight into a situation that's so often seen through a political - not personal - lens. * GQ * The systems of containment and control that the rich world applies to many thousands of migrants and refugees work by reducing people to a faceless presence to either be feared or pitied, but never listened to. In the face of this oppression, Behrouz Boochani's lyrical yet unsparing account is a vital act of resistance, and a unique examination of people pushed to life's extremes. -- Daniel Trilling, author of Lights in the Distance A chant, a cry from the heart, a lament, fuelled by a fierce urgency, written with the lyricism of a poet, the literary skills of a novelist, and the profound insights of an astute observer of human behaviour and the ruthless politics of a cruel and unjust imprisonment. -- Arnold Zable, author of the award-winning Jewels and Ashes and Cafe Scheherazade
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About Behrouz Boochani

Behrouz Boochani holds a Masters degree in political geography and geopolitics. He is a Kurdish-Iranian journalist, scholar, cultural advocate, writer and filmmaker, founder of the Kurdish-language magazine Weya, and an Honorary Member of PEN International. In 2013, he fled Iran and became a political prisoner of the Australian Government incarcerated in the Manus Regional Processing Centre (Papua New Guinea).


Translator Dr Omid Tofighian is a lecturer, researcher and community advocate based at the American University of Cairo and University of Sydney. His work combines philosophy with interests in rhetoric, religion, popular culture, transnationalism, displacement and discrimination. He contributes to community arts and cultural projects and works with asylum seekers, refugees and young people from Western Sydney. He has published numerous book chapters and journal articles and is the author of Myth and Philosophy in Platonic Dialogues (Palgrave, 2016). He has translated a number of articles for Behrouz Boochani for the Guardian.
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Rating details

3,523 ratings
4.06 out of 5 stars
5 41% (1,457)
4 33% (1,176)
3 18% (626)
2 5% (192)
1 2% (72)
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