Felicity Plunkett reviews 'No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison' by Behrouz Boochani

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison' by Behrouz Boochani

No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison

by Behrouz Boochani

Picador, $32.99 pb, 400 pp, 9781760555382

Behrouz Boochani describes being smashed into the sea by the boulder-like weight of an overpacked, splintering boat transporting asylum seekers from Indonesia to Australia. The wreck’s ‘slashed carcass’ gashes the flailing survivors and the bodies of those who have died, and Boochani settles under a wave, finding refuge ‘by imagining myself elsewhere’. Finding the strength to surface, he sees a group of men clinging to a wooden spar torn from the battered boat. Its spikes lacerate Boochani’s legs as he sinks and surfaces amid violent waves. A British boat approaches: ‘our gruelling odyssey has come to an end’. Having faced death in those underwater moments, Boochani reflects that ‘even a brush with mortality gives life a marvellous sense of meaning’.

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Published in October 2018, no. 405
Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett

Felicity Plunkett is a poet and critic. She has a PhD from the University of Sydney. Her first collection of poetry Vanishing Point won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize and was shortlisted for several other awards. Felicity’s chapbook Seastrands was published in Vagabond Press’s Rare Objects series in 2011, and she is the editor of Thirty Australian Poets (UQP, 2011). She is Poetry Editor with University of Queensland Press and a widely published reviewer.