For Books' Sake have already given Asylum and Exile an attentive and very generous 5 star review which can be read here and there has also been some great press in Nose In A Book as well as a long interview in Asian Culture Culture. I've covered the project in a recent Guardian article headlined I want to give asylum seekers in Britain a chance to tell their own story and in an essay for the Free Word's Briefing Notes series: Asylum and refuge in Britain. I've also discussed the issues in my introduction to Big Writing for A Small World (Scribd copy of English PEN publication) and the articles Rape, refusal, denial, detention: refugees dancing at the edge of the world and Asylum: no woman should be missed out. English PEN have written up the debate at one of my events on this issue in a wonderful piece here. I have also written up my visit to a UK detention centre for the Free Word's essay series: Life is a scary movie: Inside a UK detention centre.
In-depth audio interviews:
- Mehvish Arshad at Asia House has published an long text and audio interview with me here (Jan 2015)
- Donna Freed at Radio Gorgeous has produced a beautiful half-hour interview with me here (February 2015)
- I also discuss the book briefly at the end of my interview on BBC Radio 4's Loose Ends (Jan 2015, last item, now lapsed).
Asylum and Exile follows the publication, in May 2012, of my fourth book Beyond the Wall: Writing a Path Through Palestine. An extensive selection of 2012 and 2013 interviews and press can be found here and a March 2014 interview by Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore can be found here. Some recent press shots are here.
I see books like Asylum and Exile as evidence of a deep seated refusal to tolerate the divisive politics that extend right across the political divide. Well done for speaking up and bearing witness. We must never stop telling the stories of those we consign to the margins.
It’s a little book, but in its 150-odd pages it manages to be wide in scope yet intimate, funny, warm, sad and horrifying. ...Asylum and Exile is a 4 star read, with an additional star because it’s so fundamentally important.
The result of Bidisha’s outreach work with refugees and asylum seekers since 2012, Asylum and Exile goes behind the stereotypes and scare stories to reveal the humanity, tragedy and bravery – and frequently the humour – of the individuals who’ve left everything behind to seek sanctuary from violence.
The outreach sessions were co-ordinated by the literary and human rights charity English PEN with the Migrants Resource Centre in Victoria and Praxis in Bethnal Green. Asylum and Exile began in the unheated rooms of severely underfunded charities in London. Yet its narratives and characters cross the globe, reflecting the consequences of some of the world’s most violent conflicts and fragile states. Stereotypes and generalisations disintegrate and what emerge are the stoical spirits, vital personalities, inner strength and defiant intelligence of the individuals themselves. The book is not an academic tract or a fierce polemic but a humane account based on personal stories expressed in idiosyncratic voices, not clichés from a newspaper. Asylum and Exile is a tribute to the honesty of raw experience, the power of personal testimony and the ability of the spoken word of truth to transform both the teller and the listener.
Poster greeting arrivals at Praxis