“One day, many years from now, another prime minister will stand up and to a teary gallery apologise for the damage done to refugees in detention. We will be told that we didn’t know then what we know now. We will hear testimony of destroyed lives. But we did know. We always knew. We just chose not to hear and to silence those who tried to remind us of the truth.”
So I read the above quote in a Facebook post today and read the linked article by Richard Flanagan which was well worth the read. Late last year I read his Man Booker prize winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North during a grief addled trip into the arms of loved ones in Tasmania. I desperately needed something as respite from my grief, but something in which I wouldn’t find Phil inhabiting the pages in the words, images, places. It was an excellent novel (although I can never not find Phil’s spirit among the noblest of characters and there were several in this book.) I chose this book because going off to Tasmania, it seemed apt to read a Tasmanian author.
The article piqued my interest a little more in this author so I found his Facebook page and discovered that he donated his $40,000 Prime Minister’s Literary Award to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. I’m an instant fan. Two issues that bother me so much about the Australia I have returned home to, are it’s treatment of asylum seekers, and the legacy of decades of disastrous policy regarding our own indigenous people.
To see a brilliant author use his words, his influence and his money to shed a little light, and try to make a difference in both of these areas is a ray of hope, don’t you think?