6 Degrees of Separation: From Three Women to The Protected
Welcome back to 6 Degrees of Separation, where Kate from booksaremyfavouriteandbest suggests a starting book, and we each link it to six other titles in whatever random way our minds make a connection. It’s easy and fun, and no two chains are the same.
This month, we’re starting with Three Women by Lisa Taddeo.
I’m only a couple of chapters into this non-fiction book about, as the title suggests, three women. The author, Lisa Taddeo, spent thousands of hours over eight years with these women in order to tell their stories. I picked it up after my cousin recommended it. She thought the style and structure might offer a way for me to tell the story of a friend who is a refugee and spent a number of years in Australian immigration detention centres.
Another victim of Australia’s immigration detention system is Behrouz Boochani, whose memoir, No Friend but the Mountains, was written while on Manus Island, which forms part of Australia’s off shore detention system. Most incredibly, this award winning book was written via a series of whatsapp messages and sent to Australia, where Omid Tofighian translated it.
If you want to understand the situation in Australia, with regards to asylum seekers and refugees, an easy-to-read book is Refugees: Why Seeking Asylum is Legal and Australian’s Policies are Not by Jane McAdam and Fiona Chong. I would love to see the authors update this, actually, as it was published in 2014, and a lot has happened since then.
Another book containing stories about refugees, but on the other side of the world, is City of Thorns by Ben Rawlence, who gave a most engaging talk at the Perth Writers’ Festival a couple of years ago. Rawlence spent time in Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp in the world, and shares the stories of nine people living there. I read most of it when I first bought it, but realise I still have a few chapters left to read, so I really want to finish it now.
I could dedicate this whole Six Degrees to recommendations on the same subject, because there is a growing body of work about refugees and seeking asylum, but I don’t think that’s the point of a Six Degrees post (maybe that’s an entirely different article waiting to be written?). Instead, I’ll turn to another book on my to-read pile, which also promises to be an extraordinary read, The Palace of Angels, by Mohammed Massoud Morsi. I bought this book containing three novellas about life, love and loss in Palestine and Israel, after attending its Perth launch last weekend.
That same weekend, I attended a talk by Chloe Higgins, who recently released her memoir The Girls, about the loss of her two sisters in a car accident, when she was just 17. I met Chloe when she was writer-in-residence at the KSP Writers’ Centre in 2016, and attended her ‘How to Vomit a Novella’ workshop. I’ve been following her road to publication since then
A fictional character who lost her sister in a car crash is Hannah, the protagonist of The Protected by Claire Zorn. The Protected is a YA novel, but both my daughter and I loved it equally. I’ll be interested to see what parallels there are between the way Hannah’s grief plays out and the aftermath of Chloe’s loss.
From the lives of women to stories about people who’ve been displaced from their homes (and the way they’ve been treated by the rest of the world, particularly Australia) to young women dealing with loss. I guess the connecting thread is that all these books are about people’s lives. Whether it be through fiction or non-fiction, we are offered an insight into those lives in a way that invites understanding, compassion and empathy. And, really, isn’t that the power of stories and books?
Over to You
Where might Six Degrees of Separation take you? If you choose to join in, you mght also like to head over to booksaremyfavouriteandbest and see where it lead Kate and other participants.
OR, let me know the name of a book you’ve read that’s encouraged understanding, compassion and/or empathy in you as the reader.