No Friend But the Mountains

Writing from Manus Prison

by Behrouz Boochani,

WINNER OF THE VICTORIAN PREMIER'S LITERARY PRIZE FOR LITERATURE AND FOR NON-FICTION 2019

Where have I come from? From the land of rivers, the land of waterfalls, the land of ancient chants, the land of mountains...

In 2013, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani was illegally detained on Manus Island. He has been there ever since.

People would run to the mountains to escape the warplanes and found asylum within their chestnut forests...

This book is the result. Laboriously tapped out on a mobile phone and translated from the Farsi. It is a voice of witness, an act of survival. A lyric first-hand account. A cry of resistance. A vivid portrait through five years of incarceration and exile.

Do Kurds have any friends other than the mountains?

WINNER OF THE NSW PREMIER'S AWARD 2019
WINNER OF THE ABIA GENERAL NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019

PRAISE FOR NO FRIEND BUT THE MOUNTAINS

"Boochani has produced a literary, journalistic and philosophical tour de force. It may well stand as one of the most important books published in Australia in two decades..." The Saturday Paper

"A chant, a cry from the heart, a lament, fuelled by a fierce urgency, written with the lyricism of a poet, the literary skills of a novelist, and the profound insights of an astute observer of human behaviour and the ruthless politics of a cruel and unjust imprisonment." Arnold Zable, author of the award-winning Jewels and Ashes and Cafe Scheherazade

"a shattering book every Australian should read" Benjamin Law (@mrbenjaminlaw 01/02/2019)

"In the absence of images, turn to this book to fathom what we have done, what we continue to do. It is, put simply, the most extraordinary and important book I have ever read." Good Reading Magazine (starred review)

"Brilliant writing. Brilliant thinking. Brilliant courage." Professor Marcia Langton AM (@marcialangton 01/02/2019)

"Not for the faint-hearted, it's a powerful, devastating insight into a situation that's so often seen through a political - not personal - lens." GQ Australia

"It is an unforgettable account of man's inhumanity to man that reads like something out of Orwell or Kafka, and is aptly described by Tofighian as 'horrific surrealism'. It is clear from Boochani's writing that he is a highly educated and philosophical man; he segues effortlessly between prose and poetry, both equally powerful." -The Australian Financial Review Magazine

"Behrouz Boochani has written a book which is as powerful as it is poetic and moving. He describes his experience of living in a refugee prison with profound insight and intelligence." Queensland Reviewers Collective

"In his book Boochani introduces us to different dimensions of his experience and thinking. Both a profound creative writing project and a strategic act of resistance, the book is part of a coherent theoretical project and critical approach." Omid Tofighian, translator of No Friend But the Mountains

"It is a voice of witness, an act of survival. A lyric first-hand account. A cry of resistance. A vivid portrait through five years of incarceration and exile." Readings

"Boochani has woven his own experiences in to a tale which is at once beautiful and harrowing, creating a valuable contribution to Australia's literary canon." Writing NSW

"it is a voice of witness and an act of survival" Law Society of NSW Journal

  • Pan Macmillan Australia; July 2018
  • ISBN: 9781760780852
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: No Friend But the Mountains
  • Author: Behrouz Boochani; Omid Tofighian (trans.)
  • Imprint: Picador Australia

About The Author

Associate Professor Behrouz Boochani graduated from Tarbiat Moallem University and Tarbiat Modares University, both in Tehran; he holds a Masters degree in political science, political geography and geopolitics. He is a Kurdish-Iranian writer, journalist, scholar, cultural advocate and filmmaker. He is currently a political prisoner incarcerated by the Australian government in the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre (Papua New Guinea). Boochani was writer for the Kurdish language magazine Werya; is Associate Professor in Social Sciences at UNSW; non-resident Visiting Scholar at the Sydney Asia Pacific Migration Centre (SAPMiC), University of Sydney; Honorary Member of PEN International; and winner of an Amnesty International Australia 2017 Media Award, the Diaspora Symposium Social Justice Award, the Liberty Victoria 2018 Empty Chair Award, and the Anna Politkovskaya award for journalism. He publishes regularly with The Guardian, and his writing also features in The Saturday Paper, Huffington Post, New Matilda, The Financial Times and TheSydney Morning Herald. Boochani is also co-director (with Arash Kamali Sarvestani) of the 2017 feature-length film Chauka, Please Tell Us The Time; collaborator on Nazanin Sahamizadeh's play Manus; and author of No Friend But The Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison (Pan Macmillan-Picador 2018). At the Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2019 his book won the Victorian Prize for Literature in addition to the Non-Fiction category. He has also won the Special Award at the NSW Premier's Literary Awards and Non-Fiction Book of the Year, Australian Book Industry Awards.

Dr Omid Tofighian is a award-winning lecturer, researcher and community advocate, combining philosophy with interests in citizen media, popular culture, displacement and discrimination. He completed his PhD in philosophy at Leiden University, Netherlands, and graduated with a combined honours degree in philosophy and studies in religion at the University of Sydney. Tofighian has lived variously in Australia where he taught at different universities; the United Arab Emirates where he taught at Abu Dhabi University; Belgium where he was a visiting scholar at K.U. Leuven; Netherlands for his PhD; and intermittent periods in Iran for research. His current roles include Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, American University in Cairo; Adjunct Lecturer in the School of the Arts and Media, UNSW; Honorary Research Associate for the Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney; faculty at Iran Academia; and campaign manager for Why Is My Curriculum White? - Australasia. He contributes to community arts and cultural projects and works with refugees, migrants and youth. He has published numerous book chapters and journal articles, is author of Myth and Philosophy in Platonic Dialogues (Palgrave 2016), translator of Behhouz Boochani's multi-award winning book No Friend but the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison (Picador 2018), and co-editor of 'Refugee Filmmaking', Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media (Winter 2019).