For more than five years Kurdish-Iranian journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani has been stuck on Manus Island, having been sent there in 2013 to be detained in an Australian offshore processing centre.
In his time on the island, Mr Boochani's has written and spoken in the media about the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers detained there, drawing greater public attention to the Australian government's policy of indefinite detention in offshore centres and the plight of those affected.
He has also written a much-acclaimed book, No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, which won the 2019 Victorian Prize for Literature and Victorian Premier's Prize for Non-Fiction.
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It is this book that will be the focus of an event in Bendigo on Thursday, at which Mr Boochani will appear via live video link alongside the book's translator Omid Tofighian and the colleague and supporter to whom it is dedicated, Castlemaine writer Janet Galbraith.
Event co-ordinator Elsie L'Huillier, from social action group Commoner's Co-op, said the conversation would delve into the political issues but also explore the book as a piece of literature. "It's an important book," she said.
As Mr Boochani himself said in his Victorian Prize for Literature acceptance speech - also delivered by video link - "words still have the power to challenge inhumane systems and structures".
Mr Boochani wrote the book on a mobile phone and sent it out from Manus Island using the messaging app WhatsApp.
Elsie said the partnerships involved - such as that between Mr Boochani and Dr Tofighian, who translated the book into English from Farsi - also made it a unique work.
Mr Boochani drew on traditional Persian forms of literature, she said, which when translated into English created new forms of storytelling.
Elsie said it was important that people knew about what Australia was doing in relation to refugees.
She hoped the event would make those who already knew about the issue feel more empowered, as well as leaving people more informed and connected to refugees.
She also hoped Mr Boochani, Dr Tofighian and Ms Galbraith would come away knowing there were people dedicated to the issue.
A Conversation with Behrouz Boochani will be held at the La Trobe Art Institute on Thursday at 6pm.
The event is jointly hosted by Commoner's Co-op and Rural Australians for Refugees Bendigo, with the support of the Bendigo Writers Festival and La Trobe University.
Tickets can be purchased online at Eventbrite.
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