Posts Tagged ‘asylum seekers’

Asylum is a solid story that deals with one woman’s journey to adulthood while underscoring the social and political injustices faced by those who don’t hold Australian citizenship. Although some of the language will be strange to non-Australian speakers, the story is nevertheless compelling and utterly relatable. Well worth the read.” – Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers’ Favorite.

I wrote this novel in 2012-13 when the Labor party were in power and the exodus of asylum seekers from countries including Syria into Europe hadn’t happened. I wrote the story to express my personal dismay over the way asylum seekers were treated in Australia. It’s even worse now. I juxtaposed the situation my protagonist, the aptly named Yvette Grimm, found herself in as a British-born visa overstayer, with the plight of real asylum seekers. I also paralleled the punitive and cruel asylum seeker policies of current governments with the way Australia treated the forgotten child migrants who were sent to children’s homes.

You can read the full review at Readers’ Favorite.

Find out more about Asylum, and read an excerpt and other reviews here.

And you may buy a copy if you wish, from many places, including Amazon, Book Depository, Booktopia.

If you wish to read my opinion pieces on asylum seekers, you will find a list of links here.

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Sue Parritt’s Pia and the Skyman is the second in her Climate Fiction trilogy, following on from Sannah and the Pilgrim, which I reviewed last year.

PIA AND THE SKYMAN

From the very first sentence, Pia and the Skyman engages the reader in the action, Parritt quickly and skilfully establishing the backstory carried over from Sannah and the Pilgrim. Sannah’s daughter, Pia, and her former lover, Kaire, are thrown together to help maintain ‘the women’s line,’ a resistance movement in a climate changed future, set up to help free prisoners doomed to a lifetime in underground desert prisons in what has become an ‘Apartheid Australia.’

Then there’s the matter of Kaire the Skyman and his cohort of clones languishing on a space station that was launched many centuries before with the aim of seeking another planet for humanity. Kaire is not without criticism. “How arrogant to imagine they could wreck one planet then move on to another without a backward glance.”

Lies, deceit, betrayal and tragedy along with a healthy dose of passion carry the narrative along in what turns out to be a remarkably engaging read.

Pia and the Skyman is a thoughtful, carefully considered work.   Parritt’s writing is assured, confident and commanding, a steady pace maintained, the use of passive voice creating an emotional detachment befitting the stark conditions of a climate changed dystopia. “Desert desert go away…let us live another day,” the children in the playground chant.

Parritt is adept at creating an edge-of-survival atmosphere without recourse to over dramatisation. Her setting is vividly real, painted with a simple palette, and fine craftsmanship and attention to detail. Her characters are deftly portrayed and immediately recognisable.

The scenario Parritt depicts is not far removed from our own current reality, the story a metaphor for our times, and a logical extrapolations of successive Australian governments’ commitment to off-shore detention of asylum seekers in gulags. Environmental refugees are among us now. How many more will there be if we don’t amend our ludicrous dependence on fossil fuels?

There’s a deeply pacifist moral undertone that runs right through the story, carrying forward values of peace and right human relations, values elevated partly through Kaire, who in a fashion represents the higher moral ground. “Down there [in Aotearoa] his fellow settlers were doing their utmost to live a sustainable life, yet still found time to help those at risk in Australia. He wanted to shout out his admiration, tell them never to give up the struggle.”

Pia conveys values of compassion and goodwill. She acts, decisively and sometimes impulsively, exemplifying the determination and resilience of all the women who sacrifice their own safety for the sake of others in the Women’s Line – a powerful symbol of cooperation, collaboration and resistance founded on principles of solidarity and trust found amongst women in all situations of oppression and hardship the world over.

Through Pia and the Skyman Sue Parritt makes an important statement about the myopia that seems to have befallen our political leaders, especially in Australia. Humanity will be faced with harsh choices if environmental conditions become as brutal as they are in Parritt’s reality. As well they might. And I very much doubt humanity would have the capacity to respond all that differently to that of Parritt’s Apartheid Australia. On the whole we seem incapable of transcending our own selfish, divisive and hate fuelled beliefs. We’ll need a lot of goodwill and far-sightedness to avoid the scenario contained in this trilogy. Sue Parritt might as well be a soothsayer.

PIA AND THE SKYMAN CAN BE FOUND AT ODYSSEY BOOKS
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To my mind no book could be more timely or more apt. For what occurs now in Syria, in the Middle East, and the ensuing exodus of a traumatised people, is merely a repetition, possibly the culmination, of what went on in the 70s in South America, not only upon the pretext of, ‘Kissinger would not tolerate another Cuba in America’s own backyard,’ but because back then, behind the scenes, the neoliberal model of governance was poised to be implemented, and who better to do that than Pinochet, who rolled in his tanks on the 11th of September 1973. 
 
Now neoliberalism has grown into the Beast it was always destined to become, and the ugly mess it creates is evident in ‘its own other,’ Daesh.
(I coin the phrase ‘a thing is its own other,’ to point the finger back to the source, the one doing all the complaining and accusing, being the exemplar of those very qualities. It’s also to be found in the verbal abuser’s handbook, as any victim of domestic violence will attest)
 
Reading Open Veins on the back of The Men who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson seems fortuitous, as the latter portrays the sorts of crazy sinister goings on behind the scenes of the military and of course of our beloved CIA, which leaves the reader thinking they wouldn’t put anything past that lot.
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Open Veins, depicts the consequences of such shenanigans.
We are currently witnessing a human tragedy on a scale not seen since WWII, as the media perpetually reminds us. And this tragedy invokes in many of us a sort of paralysis. Our response is both humanitarian, whether born out in protest, in donation, in actual physical help, and at the same time, befuddlement that such events could be occurring.
And of course many of us are horrified by Daesh. We sense that Daesh is to blame and must be stopped. We have a sense that we should never have invaded Iraq. We are troubled by all the troubles that won’t go away, in Palestine, in Afghanistan, in Lebanon, in the Kurdish lands.
Life likes irony, I’d say it was born to it, and there is no greater irony than the current influx of refugees into Europe, as many tens of thousands of innocents seek sanctuary in the very nations complicit in the downfall of the Middle East.
Much the same took place in South America, as vast numbers of asylum seekers sought sanctuary in Spain, its old Colonial oppressor.
The difference between then and now is the methods of the ‘conspirators’ have changed. In the 70s in South America, military dictators were installed in nation upon nation, with the covert assistance of the American military and the CIA.
Whereas now, military dictators are being toppled in favour of, ‘the completely failed state.’ A much better situation as it allows for far more $$ to be made and one doesn’t have to deal with a belligerent tinpot junta, a little despot with his own ideas.
Better to have no ideas. Better to have absolute mayhem and quite a lot of carnage. Blow the cities and the towns to smithereens and then we’ll have plenty to rebuild. Yahoo! That’ll keep us busy for decades.
If I were a European citizen, I’d be pissed off with America for cultivating the conditions which have led to the current social cataclysm as Syria implodes. And of course America is not alone on the geopolitical stage. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, France, Britain, Germany et al, all have a vested interest in the catastrophe that spans from Libya through to Afghanistan.
Here’s one illustration:
Really, what we are witnessing isn’t a pot pourri of national interests playing geopolitical chess, but a single, unified interest, and that interest is disaster capital. While nations posture and threaten and invade, vast corporations are adding the dollars to their tills. Which is why, after I have finished reading Open Veins, I shall be turning to, Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing out of Catastrophe, by Antony Loewenstein.
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So now, as I contemplate the current exodus from war-ravaged lands, and as I delve into the recent past of the 70s and trace the roots of that wave of Empiric atrocity, I do so knowing that the War on Terror and the Cold War before it, are veils, excuses. The root causes of both lie in the deep plans of neoliberalism and the ruthless reckless manner in which those plans are imposed on humanity.
Loraine Oliver of Wicked Woman Book Blog gave Asylum 5 stars on  Goodreads
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“Asylum by Isobel Blackthorn was a book I really enjoyed and look forward to reading more by this author. I am getting around to finally reviewing this book even though I finished this book over a month ago, due to being sick.

Yvette Grimm, a 29 year old woman has decided to go to Australia to visit on a visa and try to get a citizenship there even though she knows it is practically impossible unless she gets married. So she goes to stay with her mother Isobel and they get along just fine although her mentioning Yvette’s sister and comparing the two of them really bothers Yvette.

Yvette had a somewhat tragic childhood living with a violent Father and then a broken home after he leaves, and she mainly came to Australia to get away from her boyfriend, Carlos, a likeable man but also a criminal, so she has a lot of issues to deal with, all caused by her own bad choices and being Yvette she rather escape the problems than deal with them, so she takes off to Australia, leaving Malta behind along with Carlos.

On top of this she has a tendency to be quite judgmental even though she has so many if not a lot of the same problems as her friends do. Yvette is having a hard time finding her niche in life as she is used to having a man, and functioning without one is quite challenging to Yvette and quite comical at times as well!

In this book we see Yvette slowly transforming into a person with a lot more empathy towards others than at the beginning of the book, and she also begins to realize the shallowness her everyday life has been and her problems are ones she created for herself! There may be hope for her yet!

I liked the way this author wrote this book and I like how the plot weaves along and things change as the story goes along. I also liked that there were a great cast of characters all well developed that had their place in this book as well. In the end Yvette is more likeable than at the beginning and although her metamorphosis is slow, it is steady and headed in a much better direction than at any other time in her life.

I gave this book 5 stars and would like to read more by this author!”

Cheers Loraine
I tried to watch Go Back to Where You Came From on SBS last night, but when they got to the border camp in Jordan, where 200 of the 4 million-and-rising refugees fleeing Syria arrive by the day, I welled up. Every time I picture the camps I cry.
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Appearing in my newsfeed a little later was an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about how the free trade agreement would push up the price of medicines in Australia, posing a threat to our pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS).
What have refugees got to do with the PBS and the free trade agreements (TPPs)? Everything.
In my view, the TPP is a global campaign designed to challenge sovereignty, designed to worsen the wellbeing of all, designed to benefit only the huge corporations. That the Australian government is currently footing a $50 million bill for court costs defending a case brought about by Phillip Morris over plain cigarette packaging should raise the alarm.
Another campaign designed to worsen wellbeing is the cultivated destabilisation of the Middle East. Cultivated through arms supplies, favouring sides, funding, training and general politicking, the result, a series of failed states. It seems a new twist on the Cold War proxy war strategy rolled out the world over wherever a chance presented itself, one that left and continues to leave unimaginable devastation in its wake.
Refugees are expendable. Just as we are expendable.
The global elite really doesn’t care. To the elite, we are less than scum in a bathtub. It’s always been this way.
For my doctoral thesis I studied the works of Theosophist (esotericist) Alice Bailey. 100,000 words and I’m the world’s leading academic authority on her work, for what it’s worth.
I woke this morning thinking about what she has to say about consciousness and how it expands and transforms. Thousands and thousands of words that can be summed up in two – Wake Up!
What she says about Power is more striking. She talks about the way power focuses to a single point. Power centralises itself and thus self-perpetuates, gaining in strength as it advances. Power is the arrow, the finger of an outstretched hand, a gun. Power has no regard for anything except power.
Thus power in human form needs an expanding evolving consciousness that embraces ideas with an open heart. Power in human form needs compassion.
Alice Bailey witnessed both World Wars. She decried the bickering and the squabbles and the infighting and divisions amongst all those who are waking up. She saw the necessity of unity in diversity (her phrase) and she knew that unless we achieve unity, we will never address the problem of power on our planet, power that has always been fundamentally evil (anti-life) – selfish, greedy, corrupt, abusive, destructive and so on.
As the veil lifts and one by one we see this power for what it is, then we must also realise the other sort of power and help it manifest – the power of unity in diversity.
That’s why the sight of refugees in border camps makes me cry.

Featured Image -- 736Here are three more reviews this time posted on Amazon UK

“Asylum is an interesting novel, the writing is intelligent and the plot well thought out. Although this book started off a little slow, it built the pace and eventually became a keeper. I loved Yvette, she was such an interesting character to read about . An enjoyable and easy to read book, I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who fancies a good read.” – adamant_wigan

“Another Isobel Blackthorn page-turner.” – philcrit

“This book had me gripped. It was very hard to put it down!” – mash

If you’d like a copy, go to Odyssey Books or any online bookseller.

I’m reposting this fabulous review featured in the July 2015 edition of The Triangle community newspaper.

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“Saturday, 20 June saw a wonderful gathering at the Well Thumbed Bookshop, Cobargo NSW, for the launch of Isobel Blackthorn’s latest book, Asylum. Starting the proceedings, Dr Heather O’Connor talked about our most wonderful and recently departed local, Neilma Ganter, found of Four Winds, Mumbulla Foundation and hundreds of other local organisations, who had learned from her father that money was meant to be spent on community, establishing a path of philanthropy in his family.

Dr Rosemary Beaumont then talked about the duality of meaning for the word asylum: a sanctuary, and a prison for the unwanted, along with the fact that 90% of Australians have come from migrant families, from poverty, or have come here to escape unbearable political situations. The movement of people has increased substantially, making the issue of refugees a worldwide issue.

Dr Beaumont discussed the fact that we live in a country that has taken a most inflexible approach to refugees, allowing shameful displays of cruelty, barbarity and inhumanity toward these people, before introducing Isobel, “a spirited individual, doing everything at 100%”.

She said that reading Asylum, she was struck by the author’s word-smithing, and her keen observation and crystalline intelligence, which come through the story.

The launch, hosted by the Well Thumbed team, was a wonderful gathering, with standing room only for those who didn’t arrive early. Asylum has been reviewed to be “the sort of book you want to savour”. It has enjoyed five star reviews and great feedback regarding its engagement. The intention of the book is to get people who don’t usually think about the plight of refugees to think and question the status of these people around the world and in particular in Australia, with her narrow perspectives and inhumane treatment of people in genuine need.” by Elizabeth Andalis