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    Dark Dreams, the book cover

Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories

... by young writers aged 11-20 years

Edited by Sonja Dechian, Heather Millar and Eva Sallis

"These stories will remind you that these unbearable events did not happen far away, to people we pity from a distance - a view the nightly news, especially now, too easily encourages. These events and histories are carried in the heart and mind of the person next to you, these experiences are with us, beside us..." (Dr Eva Sallis, editor)

Another remarkable book has been published under auspices of Australians Against Racism, the result of many refugee stories that were submitted for the Australia Is Refugees Essay Competition, which ran in 2003 in primary and secondary schools around Australia.

Appraisal: Eva Sallis

This collection of 37 stories is an extraordinary witness account, written by young people. From Eva Sallis' website: Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories is an anthology of essays, interviews, comments and short stories written by children and young adults aged 11-20 years. These young writers explore or imaginatively recreate the story of someone who came to Australia as a refugee. Most of these essays, interviews and stories were written on the basis of a live interview. These are the stories of extraordinary Australians the young authors found in their family, neighbourhood, and local communities; and in themselves.

This is a unique book in Australia. The stories are the finest of hundreds collected through an unprecedented nationwide schools competition in 2002, devised by writer Eva Sallis and run by Australians Against Racism Inc.

The essays and stories range in length from 700 words to 2,500 words and represent many different countries. Some focus on survival, some on horrors, some on the experiences and alienation of a new world. Some are stories of refugees still living in detention centres in Australia, and one is the unbearable story of a twelve-year-old SIEVX survivor, told by her fifteen-year-old friend, and capturing both their voices.

The longer works are often framed by one-liners or paragraphs of striking comment, epigraphs and observations from very young children. These stories are shocking, moving, and at times funny. Some are written with the quirky humour of children, others show the frank compassion and honest surprise of young Australians as they encounter experiences more terrible than their own. Some are the gut-churning stories from young voices of children just starting to rebuild lives here. These children's voices and children's views have the power to chasten us with the clarity of their understanding and revelation of the big issues now facing us.

This book is too diverse to be partisan in any sense. There are stories of escape from the holocaust, people smuggled from Poland and Germany; of survival in Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia; of terrible boat journeys from Vietnam and other parts of South East Asia; and of the long roads and ongoing uncertainties of people fleeing Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries in recent years. Many stories show the shocking things humans do to each other; many others show the wonderful things that strangers can do. The total picture is a powerful indictment of war itself, all wars. And across the collection, there emerges the recurrent theme of friendship: friendships lost, broken, remembered and found, now in Australia.

These stories are unavoidably topical, disturbing and political. They are highly, provocatively readable.

Schools across Australia are trying to find ways to talk about refugees, terrorism and war. This book is well-poised have a huge impact in schools, particularly because it is written by children's peers. Dark Dreams has a key role to play in schools in 2004. [Source]

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Acclaim: Phillip Adams

Trying to judge the entries to this extraordinary competition has given me both a heartache and headache. At the same time, it's been a great privilege. The demonisation of the refugees has been disgraceful - one of the uglier tactics in Australia's political history. But every bit as reprehensible as the demonisation was, to coin a phrase, the 'anonymisation'. The way, for example, the people on the Tampa remained just dots on the deck. Faceless, nameless, remote and abstract. We have not been allowed to know the refugees as human beings - as men, women and children, as mothers and husbands, sons and daughters. These stories change all that and force a personal response from the reader. What a pity Australia's bigots can't be persuaded to read these accounts. It might, just might, make them more understanding and compassionate. (Phillip Adams)

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Details:

Title: Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories
Editors: Sonja Dechian, Heather Millar, Eva Sallis
Type: Paperback, 224 pages
Dimensions: 210 x 135mm
ISBN: 1 86254 629 0
Category: Children and Young Adult Fiction and True Stories
APN: 9781862546295
Publisher: Wakefield Press

Dark Dreams:
Australian Refugee Stories by young writers
prices including shipping
qty cost shipping total member price
1 $ 19.95 $ 5.10 $ 25.05 $ 24.05
2 $ 39.90 $ 9.15 $ 49.05 $ 47.05
3 $ 59.85 $ 9.15 $ 69.00 $ 66.00
For international shipping please add
$AUS18.00 to your total payment

to order click this button

"A dark dream left a mark in my heart, mind and soul." (Mohammad Riyadh Ali, aged 20)

"They did what they could to stay alive, and then they played soccer." (Helen Huynh, aged 16)

Review comments

I read the essays with curiosity and a great deal of emotion. The real treasures are the stories told by young refugees themselves, and by the children of people who fled to Australia a generation ago. Some of the more recent arrivals here have struggled with a language not their own, and have produced stories we will never be able to forget. Some of the pieces read as passionate polemic, others show the flair and freshness of short stories. Their determination, their urgency of expression, and their lack of sentimentality have moved us deeply. They would melt the hardest heart. It has been a privilege to read these essays, and a terribly difficult job to try to rank them. (Helen Garner)

To read this whole collection of testimony accounts and of stories learned through the accounts of others has been an experience both painful and rewarding ... The pain is what is still close to the surface, and the accounts which communicate the traumatic events sear us with their authenticity and their humanity. Several pieces which are rough hewn from direct experience reach us through the difficulty of a language foreign to the narrators, but in the most telling of these there is a rawness that sears. From Holocaust survivors, Vietnamese boat people on to contemporary refugees fleeing oppression in Afghanistan or Iraq, Sri Lanka or Africa, these are accounts we must heed, and learn from. (Tom Shapcott)

Reading these entries has reminded us of the suffering of so many in our community. We have been struck by the sympathy and empathy of those who entered. Many spoke of their newfound realisation of the plight of the refugee. Some entrants wrote of their own family members, others went to extraordinary lengths to meet strangers and hear their stories. In every case, the hearing of that story, first hand, had a profound effect on the listener. The strength of the contributions is very heartening, holding out hope that through the children of this country we may see our nation develop in a compassionate, inclusive and responsible way. (Meme McDonald and Libby Gleeson)

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From Australians Against Racism:

An anthology of essays and short stories written by children and young adults aged 11-20 years. These young writers explore or imaginatively recreate the story of someone who came to Australia as a refugee. These are the stories of extraordinary Australians the young authors found in their family, neighbourhood, and local communities; and in themselves.

This is a unique book in Australia. The stories are the finest of hundreds collected through an unprecedented nationwide schools competition in 2002, devised by writer Eva Sallis and run by Australians Against Racism Inc.

The essays and stories range in length from 700 words to 2,500 words and represent many different countries. Some focus on survival, some on horrors, some on the experiences and alienation of a new world. Some are stories of refugees still living in detention centres in Australia, and one is the unbearable story of a twelve-year-old SIEVX survivor, told by her fifteen-year-old friend, and capturing both their voices. These stories are unavoidably topical, disturbing and political. They are highly, provocatively readable.

Dark Dreams:
Australian Refugee Stories by young writers
prices including shipping
qty cost shipping total member price
1 $ 19.95 $ 5.10 $ 25.05 $ 24.05
2 $ 39.90 $ 9.15 $ 49.05 $ 47.05
3 $ 59.85 $ 9.15 $ 69.00 $ 66.00
For international shipping please add
$AUS18.00 to your total payment

to order click this button

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