NO FRIEND BUT THE MOUNTAINS: BEHROUZ BOOCHANI
After fleeing from Iran in 2013, Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani became a political prisoner, detained indefinitely in legal limbo in the Australian-run Manus Regional Processing Centre, Papua New Guinea. He wrote his six-year chronicle of witness and survival on a smuggled mobile phone, tapped out in Farsi in a series of single messages, which were subsequently translated into English by Omid Tofighian. Boochani’s against-all-odds No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison has been much feted, winning Australia’s richest literary prize – the Victorian Prize for Literature – as well as the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Nonfiction, the ABIA General Nonfiction Book of the Year, and the Australian National Biography Award. The Age wrote of it, “… every Australian, beginning with the prime minister, should read … [this] intense, lyrical, and psychologically perceptive prose-poetry masterpiece.” Now, having finally left Manus, he speaks with Rosemarie Milsom.