Last week it was Queensland’s turn to celebrate the wonderful anthology A COUNTRY TOO FAR, with its editors Tom Keneally and Rosie Scott, at Brisbane’s Multicultural Development Associaton. The launch was timely: the same week it was reported that an asylum seeker from Myanmar was returned to a detention centre and separated from her ill new-born baby in the Mater Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. Her crime? Seeking asylum in a country that once prided itself on its humane and compassionate approach to displaced persons after the Second World War, Vietnamese boat people and students fleeing the massacre in Tiananmen Square.
Some of Australia’s finest writers contributed to the Keneally-Scott edited anthology, examining in different ways Australia’s response to what Rosie Scott calls “one of the most pressing moral issues of our time.” In prose, essays and poetry, the collection manages to wrest back the discussion from hysteria, reminding everyone that what is at stake here are people’s lives, real people, with brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers, real people, just like us.
I urge everyone to buy a copy of this book, with all proceeds going to various groups helping newly settled migrants, and refugee groups. I was MC for the Brisbane night, but the book has already launched in Sydney and Melbourne, and events are planned for cities and towns all over Australia.
Here’s a review here from Guardian Australia but the collection has been excellent received everywhere. It would make an excellent Christmas present, most especially for those who perhaps need to understand the other side of the story. Highly recommended.