Another Sky: Voices of Conscience from Around the World by Lucy Popescu and Carole Seymour-Jones
|Another Sky: Voices of Conscience from Around the World by Lucy Popescu and Carole Seymour-Jones (Eds)|
|Reviewer: Conor Murphy|
|Summary: Including pieces from the well known, such as Ken Saro Wiwa and Aung San Suu Kyi, and also the less well known, and published at a time when even the governments of liberal democracies are beginning to encroach upon hard-won freedoms, this is a book not to be missed.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 276||Date: April 2007|
|Publisher: Profile Books Ltd|
|External links: Author's website|
This anthology of writing from prison includes names you will know. Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's first Literature Nobel Laureate who was detained for speaking in an interview about the Armenian massacre in 1915, contributes a plea for the freedom to write, as does Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest in Myanmar almost continuously since 1990. A contribution from Ken Saro-Wiwa commits to paper a premonition of his own death. Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by the Nigerian military in 1995. You'll recognise Anna Politkovskaya's name - she was shot dead in Russia in October 2006. Few doubt that she was murdered for her fearless reporting.
And there are names you probably won't know. Asiye Guzel, a former editor of a Turkish socialist newspaper, tells of her torture by suspension and her rape. Zimbabwean poet and columnist Chenjerai Hove explains how an oppressive system depends on a massive program to make all citizens imbeciles and a writer has to fight that. Paul Kamara tells what it is like to run the newspaper For Di People in Sierra Leone. And before you think to yourself, thank heavens I live here, in a liberal democracy, consider Cheikh Kone's piece uncovering the horrors of the Australian asylum seeker holding centres and Hari Kunzru's piece about internet censorship for profit.
Another Sky is an important book for all sorts of reasons. It is important because its words themselves are important. Its contributors have powerful individual stories to tell and they deserve to be read. When people risk their lives in order to be allowed to express themselves, it is important that we hear what they say. When people bear witness, we must pay heed. It is also important because it reminds us of PEN, the world's oldest human rights organisation and its Writers In Prison Committee, which works on behalf of persecuted writers all across the world. It is also important in a timely way. As our liberal democracies are passing new laws in the name of fighting terrorism, we need to remind ourselves of what happens when peaceful dissent is crushed.
I couldn't read Another Sky in one sitting. It was just too painful. Asiye Guzel's piece left me in tears and I still can't get Chris Abani's stark poems out of my head. Ultimately, though, this book isn't soul-destroying. It's inspirational. And it makes you want to speak up, speak out and be unafraid. Free expression is one of the most basic of human rights, and we must protect it.
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