Conscripted at age seven into Sudan’s brutal civil war, Deng Adut was groomed to handle an AK47 instead of a pencil. He escaped bullet wounds, atrocities and near starvation to become a lawyer, refugee advocate and NSW Australian of the Year. His memoir, Songs of a War Boy, is equally remarkable as it was written by a man who learned English by watching The Wiggles. He shares his inspiring story with Suzanne Leal.

Deng Adut (Australian)

Adut, Deng.jpeg

Deng Adut is a writer and lawyer and the NSW Australian of the Year for 2017. A former child soldier in Sudan, he came to Australia as a refugee aged 14. Having never been to school, he taught himself to read, write and speak English, and went on to win a scholarship to study law in 2005. He now has his own law practice with offices in Sydney, Parramatta, Blacktown and Redfern, and he spends much of his free time working with disenfranchised youth and refugees.

Deng gave the 2016 Australia Day Address, and was painted for the 2016 Archibald Prize by Nick Stathopoulos (whose portrait of Deng won the People’s Choice award). Deng’s memoir Songs of a War Boy was written with Ben Mckelvey.

Suzanne Leal (Australian)

Leal, Suzanne c Kelly Barlow.jpeg

Suzanne Leal is the author of novels The Teacher’s Secret and Border Street. A lawyer experienced in child protection, criminal law and refugee law, Suzanne is the senior judge for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and a former judge of ‘The Nib’ Waverley Library Award for Literature. She has been a legal commentator on ABC radio and is a regular interviewer at literary events and festivals.