The special power of stories is they allow readers to see the world from different perspectives. We travel through new worlds, inhabit different bodies and experience a life through new eyes. The 19 stories in Alien Shores are about refugees and asylum seekers, written by writers from Australia and the Indian subcontinent, and force us to think about the people behind the headlines. Each story seems to be about choices – to stay or go, give refuge or deny it, uphold the law or fight for survival. These decisions all come at a heavy cost for those concerned. There are no winners and losers here; it’s not that kind of a book.
Rundle and Bharat have collected writers and stories that are heroic, beautiful and compassionate. They fearlessly explore a territory marked by pain, loss and the human spirit. The inclusion of writers from different countries, writers in translation, writers who write for children and adults, those that are well known and those that aren’t, give this book a very special texture. To single out one story would be to do a disservice to the others. Each provides a different voice, or accent, to the very same song. Life is fragile and we are all so very human. Read Alien Shores and spend a few hours in another person’s world. You’ll come out better for the experience.
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences graduate
Sharon Rundle is a PhD student and Casual Academic at UTS. She is also the Chair of the UTS Alumni Writers’ Network.
This review was first published in the UTS U: Magazine September 2012.