With more people displaced around the world today than in any other time in modern history, what role can literature play in bringing issues of flight, expulsion and migration to the forefront? Join Go, Went, Gone author Jenny Erpenbeck and No Friend but the Mountains translator Omid Tofighian as they discuss stories of nationhood and statelessness with Julian Burnside. Jenny spent a year talking with refugees in Berlin to write her acclaimed novel; and Omid brought to light questions of detention and survival in translating Behrouz Boochani’s prize-winning memoir No Friend but the Mountains.
Jenny Erpenbeck (International)
Jenny Erpenbeck is the bestselling author of The Old Child & The Book of Words, Visitation and The End of Days, which won the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and Go, Went, Gone, which was longlisted for the International Man Booker Prize. The New Yorker's James Wood has praised her “classical restraint”, comparing her to JM Coetzee, VS Naipul and Teju Cole. The Guardian says, “reading Erpenbeck always produces a shiver of metaphysical vertigo. Her wisdom feels uncannily ancient...shot through with an insight that almost blinds.” Her fiction is published in 27 languages.
Omid Tofighian (Australian)
Translator Dr Omid Tofighian is a lecturer, researcher and community advocate based at the American University of Cairo and University of Sydney. His work combines philosophy with interests in rhetoric, religion, popular culture, transnationalism, displacement and discrimination. He contributes to community arts and cultural projects and works with asylum seekers, refugees and young people from Western Sydney. He has published numerous book chapters and journal articles and is author of Myth and Philosophy in Platonic Dialogues. He has translated a number of articles for Behrouz Boochani for The Guardian.
Julian Burnside (Australian)
Julian Burnside is a Melbourne barrister specialising in commercial litigation. He is a former President of Liberty Victoria, and has acted pro bono in many human rights cases, in particular concerning the treatment of refugees. He is the author of Watching Out: Reflections on Justice and Injustice, Wordwatching, Watching Brief, and Matilda and the Dragon. He compiled a book of letters written by asylum seekers held in Australia’s detention camps, published as From Nothing to Zero. In 2004 he was elected as a Living National Treasure, in 2009 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia, and in 2014 he was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize.