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Centre of African Studies: Events


Edinburgh International Book Festival

Edinburgh International Book Festival: ‘Asylum Found’
Speaker: Bidisha # Journalist and Writer; Speaker: Lucy Popescu # Author; Speaker: Ahmed Al-Malik # Author; Speaker: Ben Rawlence # Author
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Date and Time
21st Aug 2016 17:45 - 21st Aug 2016 18:45
Garden Theatre, Edinburgh International Book Festival

The Centre of African Studies (CAS) would like to invite you to a fascinating panel discussion organised as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival and sponsored by the College of Humanities and Social Science.  ‘Asylum Found’ will take place on 21 August, 17.45 – 18.45, at the Garden Theatre.

In the CAS sponsored ‘Asylum Found’ event at the Edinburgh Book Festival, Lucy Popecu, Ahmed al-Malik and Ben Rawlence discuss their most recent work with journalist and writer Bidisha.

Writer and editor Lucy Popescu’s work has frequently been a campaign to place the voice of the subject at the centre of human rights narratives. A Country of Refuge: an anthology of writing on asylum seekers aims to do just this, compiling poems and short stories, both fiction and non-fiction, in a dedication to the pursuit of refuge.

An uneasy humour and a sense of the sinister drives author Ahmed Al-Malik ‘s 'The Tank’ in his contribution to the collection The Book of Khartoum: A City in Short Fiction. The purchase of a military tank from a shady middle-man reveals itself to be a savvy acquisition. Without this armoured vehicle the protagonist is a frustrated no-man. With the tank he is an agent of chaos. The story unfolds as a subtle meditation on power and the tensions which underlie life in a city that draws refugees from across Sudan.

In Ben Rawlence’s City of Thorns we are seated behind the eyes of nine of the residents of the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab, Kenya’s third largest metropolis.   This manmade island in the desert is cast as far from Kenyan connection as the government could fathom. With Ben Rawlence's inside knowledge of the humanitarian industry he depicts his frustrations of a  determined and striking facelessness of the agencies which govern this space. This stark contrast between the  decision-makers and the  agony experienced by the camp’s occupants is sadly apparent.

These writers do not tread easy roads. The depth of the characters of which they base their stories drives forward important narratives. The search for refuge is felt as an urgent and deeply troubling backbeat to the texture of lives unfolding. 

The above is a summarised version of a review article by CAS Critical Studies editor Laura Major. To view full version, go to our blog page

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