Behrouz Boochani wrote his book with desperate means from imprisonment in a brutal Australian camp for migrants. A collaborator from outside who helped assemble the book terms it a work of “horrific surrealism.”
Boochani’s book challenges readers to acknowledge that we are living in the age of camps. The camps lie scattered throughout the Middle East, cluster on Greek islands and stretch like an ugly tattoo along the U.S.-Mexican border. Camps sprawl through Bangladesh, Chad and Colombia. People are suspended in a stateless and extralegal limbo on the tiny Pacific island nation Nauru, in Guantánamo and in the Syrian town of al-Hawl. At no time since humans first drew borders have there been more migrants and refugees than today. Countless individual lives weave into a collective panorama of displacement and statelessness and detention. These truncated journeys are a defining experience of our times.
The pandemic is giving many of us — confined, restricted, bored, afraid, angry, deprived, hungry, ill, depressed, domiciled if we are lucky — the taste of a “defining experience of our times”: carceral encampment.
(Megan K. Stack, “Behrouz Boochani Just Wants to Be Free,” NYTimes, 8-4-20)
(c) 2020 JMN