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No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  4,632 ratings  ·  840 reviews
Winner of The Victorian Prize for Literature, and the Prize for Non-Fiction, Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 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
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 31st 2018 by Picador Australia
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آقای بارسقیان که خودشون مترجم هستند این مطلب رو نوشتن و از عنوان مطلب هم هویداست که معتقدن کتاب سانسور شده. دس…more
آقای بارسقیان که خودشون مترجم هستند این مطلب رو نوشتن و از عنوان مطلب هم هویداست که معتقدن کتاب سانسور شده. دسترسی به نسخه انگلیسی نداشتم اما حین خواندن نسخه فارسی هم مخاطب ، چه اثر رو دوست داشته باشه یا ازش متنفر باشه ، احساس میکنه یه بخش هایی از متن نیست و حذف شده. یه نکته دیگه مترجم کتاب به کردی در توضیح اینکه چرا ترجمه انگلیسی کتاب رو به عنوان منبع ترجمه ش انتخاب کرده و نه نسخه انگلیسی رو ، اشاره میکنه که کار امید توفیقیان (مترجم انگلیسی کتاب) باعث شده نسخه انگلیسی کتاب انسجام و پیوستگی خیلی بیشتری نسبت به نسخه فارسی اولیه داشته باشه و یکی از دلایل استقبال زیاد از کتاب همون ترجمه س. البته بایستی کسی که هر دو نسخه را از ابتدا تا انتها خوانده و مقایسه کرده نظر نهایی را ایراد کند.
پس اگه دسترسی به نسخه انگلیسی دارید چه بهتر همون رو بخونید والا بایستی به همون نسخه فارسی اکتفا کرد.(less)

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Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Begin mandatory reading. End mandatory detention.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For three days I have been locked inside a hell that I can still barely fathom, one that I experienced on the page, but that Behrouz Boochani and his fellow prisoners on Manus Island have lived for over five years. What's worse was the knowledge that we have all been made accomplice to their suffering.

No Friend But The Mountains is a masterpiece of prisoner literature, up there with Solzhenitsyn and Levi (and no, I'm not going the Godwin's Law route, but I had visceral shivers reading some of t
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-harder-2019
Winner of The Victorian Prize for Literature, and the Prize for Non-Fiction, Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2019

Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani fled persecution in Iran in 2013. He attempted to make his way to Australia by boat but was instead captured and imprisoned on Manus Island in hellish conditions for five years. This book was tapped out in thousands of text messages in Farsi, and translated into English by Omid Tofighian.

Any review here is bound to be totally inadequate. How do
UPDATE JULY 2020 Boochani has just been given formal refugee status in New Zealand and granted a visa to live there!
“My mother always sighed and would say: ‘My boy, you came into this world in a time we called the flee and flight years.’

In his poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote of the disastrous ride of the 600 into the Valley of Death: “Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them volleyed and thundered; Stormed at with shot and sh
Nikola Leka
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a masterpiece. It is unique in the prison literature- tapped out in Farsi on a mobile phone from Australia's offshore version of Guatanamo- Manus Island prison, where successive Australian governments have imprisoned innocent people without charge indefinitely.

The first three chapters are absolutely harrowing, a pace that has your heart hammering and your hands sweating with anxiety and fear- and then in flips into a description of the gratuitous cruelty of the insane system that rules t
May 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenna by: MonumentToDecency
"We are a bunch of ordinary humans locked up simply for seeking refuge."

No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison is a devastating read, an infuriating read, but it is a story that urgently needs to be heard.  It is a haunting and horrific account of one refugee's experience being locked up in an Australian prison (oops, sorry, a processing Centre).  

When Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish Iranian journalist, had to flee his homeland, he made his way to Indonesia and from there got passage
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing

It is nothing short of a triumph of human spirit and resilience in the face of insurmountable odds that I am sitting here reading this book, in its current format, in English. This wonderful book was compiled over time, translated from Farsi, and smuggled out of Manus Island from thousands of text messages thumbed out on a mobile phone.

It chronicles the downright, horrible, despicable, conditions on Manus Island and the inhumane treat
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My friend Maggie said it best in her review of this book- it feels wrong, inappropriate even to give a star rating to someone’s story of human suffering like this. So in that sense, my rating is not an expression of the quality of this narrative, but the significance of this text. No Friend But the Mountains is an important story, about refugee experience in Australia. It is a harrowing story, and one which we must engage with critically, in order to restore humanity, to the way we treat those w ...more
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fic
My government tortures people.

The government I fund with my taxes, the government that represents me as an Australian citizen, locked innocent people in a brutal, spirit crushing offshore gulag with the express purpose of breaking them physically and emotionally.

That is the inescapable conclusion any reasonable reader will reach after finishing Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but The Mountains.

Who are these people who were so poorly treated? Refugees. The weakest of the weak. People fleeing war, op
پیمان علو
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing


‏Ruuuuuuuuuuuun Behrouz Ruuuuuuuuuuun


‏Hurry up...
‏Death is coming

“Sherko Bekas”


‏Run Behrouz Run...
✨    jamieson   ✨

It feels wrong to rate a book like this which is so deeply personal and so embedded within the author's experiences of suffering. Like, 'thanks for sharing your trauma with me it was worth x stars' just doesn't feel right.

Most Australian's probably know about this story or this book - but for those unaware. This is Behrouz Boochani's account of life within Manus Island Detention Centre, which is a prison where refugees attempting to enter Australia were held without charge, and indefinitely, as
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m lost for words, Bouchani has said it all, he has chosen the best narrative to explain ways in which through the systematic torture, the Australian government is trying to strip refugees from their humanity and make them nothing.
It is a strange world indeed where the government of Australia that now rules and tortures refugees is the same as the one that has descended from those colonialists who killed and tortured aboriginals and stole their land, and yet they believe they have the right to
Jade Maree
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Finally finished! This book was so hard to read. I usually don’t struggle with translations but I’m sure with this one something must have been lost. Such an important story, just didn’t do it for me.
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is not a well-written book on any measure I can think of. As memoir, it reads like an adolescent’s diary, with all the expected melodrama and awkward word play. As journalism, it fails to provide any context, objectivity, or nuance. As poetry, it made me cringe. Very disappointing because, based on reviews and buzz, I was expecting to love this book. Would be 1-star but the story of how it was written—in WhatsApp messages from the Manus Island detention centre—coupled with the sheer importa ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
‘Do the Kurds have any friends other than the mountains?’

I read this book in November and have struggled since to try to assemble the right words with which to review it. I think that all Australians should read this book, regardless of whether they support the existing Australian Government detention policy. Those who do not support mandatory detention will find plenty here to support their views. And surely those who do support mandatory detention must concerned by the consequences of the inde
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it

“For some moments I exert everything to reach something far down inside the deepest existential places of myself. To find something divine. To grab at it…maybe. But I uncover nothing but myself and a sense of enormous absurdity and futility.”

This is Boochani recalling some of his darker thoughts on a botched and treacherous boat journey from Indonesia to Australia. And this was before he got to the real horror, at the hand of the Australian authorities. He is buoyed with the
Rachel Morris
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
An absolute standout in Australian and Persian literature. Behrouz experience is shared so vividly and thoughtfully. The hardest book I’ve ever had to read through in my life, as it’s still the truth of the political situation for the men on Manus, but the insight into the systematic abuse behind it and the way Behrouz draws on his culture is absolutely astounding. This book in itself, is an act of resistance. This book, is a gift to humanity. Every Australian needs to read this book.
Jaclyn Crupi
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
When your government creates an offshore prison system for people seeking asylum designed to break their spirit and soul you know there will be a reckoning. Following a long tradition of prison memoir, Boochani adds his lived experience of this nightmare. Typed on a mobile phone and sent via whatsapp to his translator in small sections the very fact this book exists is remarkable. His insights and observations are often crippling in their depictions of life in Manus Prison. His use of poetic str ...more
Anne Fenn
Unforgettable prison literature - this book is on that level, along with work by Dostoevsky, Solzhenitzen, in Australia maybe Marcus Clark's For The Term Of His Natural Life. These books have in common powerful imaginative narratives of the interminable suffering and savagery men go through over a long period. They remain powerful testaments of the brutalising and mind-numbing effects of prolonged incarceration.
Behrouz Boochani's book has the power of being real, not fiction, being here and now
Natasha (jouljet)
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is such an important book - an account, witness and lived experience of the indefinite offshore detention Australia is enforcing on a select number of refugees who sought our protection.

Behrouz writes as a prisoner, a refugee, a journalist and writer. This is a record of his boat journey, and his exile to Manus. It is a tribute to those held with him, those killed by the system during this period, and the impact of the day to day interpretations of the harsh policy of "deterrence".

The trans
90th book for 2019.

An important book about the Australia's offshore detention system for so called "illegal" immigrants—seeking asylum in a foreign nation is not an illegal act under international law, which Australia is a signatory—that places men, women and children fleeing death/imprisonment in their own countries in horrific prison conditions on tropical islands outside Australia.

A must read, not only for all Australians—whose acts of inhumanity are done in their name—but also for all Europe
Michael Livingston
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is not a perfect book, but it's one that every Australian should read. Written via text message from the Manus Island prison, Boochani has written an expose of the brutal conditions that the Australian government has abandoned 100s of refugees to on PNG. Boochani has higher literary ambitions and he writes evocatively of life on Manus. This is an infuriating, shaming book - we're complicit in torture and there's no sign of anything changing.
Radhika Roy
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Behrouz Boochani is an Iranian-Kurdish journalist who found himself on Manus Island while trying to flee Iran. The story that follows recounts the utter dehumanization that occurs at this so-called detention centre (Boochani calls it a "prison", but I believe it's worse than that because even a prison accords basic rights to its inhabitants). Boochani spent 5-ish years on this Australian-run prison and, interestingly, wrote this book via text messages/WhatsApp messages !

The narrative is a beauti
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking, horrifying, harrowing - a tragic description of incarceration and mental torture of asylum-seekers on Manus Island at the hands of the Australian Government. The writing is beautiful and poetic, the descriptions accurate and insightful.
The book was painstakingly tapped out on a smuggled mobile phone, and sent to Australia where it was translated from the Farsi by researcher Dr Omid Tofighian. The translated version is lyrical and beautiful – I can only imagine that the original F
The story of the book is better than the book itself. Behrouz, an Iranian journalist from the Kurdistan region was seeking freedom, ends up in refugee prison camp on Manus Island due to the unfortunate timing of his illegal arrival in Australia. The book was compiled from mobile phone texts and translated from Farsi.

It's very sad, depressing, and troubling, showcasing the gruesome squalor and inhumane treatment of refugees on Manus, whose only crime was striving for a better life. The cruelty of
Apr 30, 2019 added it
A challenging and uncomfortable read. I personally feel it would be an insult to judge Boochani’s work and the circumstances under which he is forced to exist so I am leaving this unrated. His ability to construct ‘every man’ using colloquial names (that could be people that we all know) creates a surreal yet highly personal account. The collapse of individuality and resignation to hopelessness witnessed is a human tragedy.
The description of ‘bosses with bosses’ and the ludicrous and unknowable
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't expect No Friend But The Mountains to be a happy story, and it certainly wasn't. It's a lyrical account of one man's prison life complete with despair, hope, drama and complexity. It's not a light or easy read, but if you can read this book, it's worth your time. This story is different from other similar stories. Actually, it's refreshingly honest and shocking. I enjoyed this one. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Behrouz Boochanj is a Kurdish refugee who, seeking to make his way to Australia by boat from Indonesia, was instead imprisoned by Australia on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. His book about the experience was written on his cellphone, sent largely via WhatsApp messages in Farsi to his translator, Omid Tofighian, with whom he collaborated. Even after the facility where he was held was declared illegal and closed, he remained unable to leave Manus until late last year, long after this book’s pub ...more
Carmel Hanes
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was not particularly enjoyable to read, but it's an important book, nonetheless. It details the personal experience of the author in attempting to seek asylum in Australia, but instead being imprisoned on nearby Manus Island. The narrative begins with the boat trip across the ocean, which is harrowing and dangerous, and which leads not to freedom but to incarceration.

The atmosphere of this detention center is oppressive and hopeless and the details provided are gruesome and relentless
The author is a Kurd refugee languishing in Manus Island, a prison the Australian Government calls an off-shore processing centre. This is a unique book. It's a much a study on why the Australian Government has enacted the draconian, dehumanising conditions as a piece of literary brilliance, a feast of Farsi prose and poetry and a glimpse into life within this prison.
The production of the book is worthy to note. Written as a series of text messages in Farsi, a small team of interpreters, journal
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Behrouz Boochani holds a Masters degree in political geography and geopolitics. He is a Kurdish-Iranian journalist, scholar, cultural advocate, writer and filmmaker, founder of the Kurdish language magazine Weya, an Honorary Member of PEN International. In 2013, he fled Iran and became a political prisoner of the Australian Government incarcerated in the Manus Regional Processing Centre (Papua New ...more

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