Thursday, August 28, 2014

Confessions of a People Smuggler, by Dawood Amiri

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

Dawood Amiri's Confessions of a People-Smuggler is starkly written and compelling. It takes you into an underworld of desperate, stateless and unwanted people and shows a reality that so many of us turn away from.

Dawood Amiri fled Afghanistan with his family when he was a boy and settled in Quetta, Pakistan. He had hoped to establish a career as an accountant, but the rise of the Taliban meant his life was in  danger. Amiri decided the best course was to make his way to Australia. In 2010 he arrived in Indonesia, and was ready to travel by boat to Christmas Island, when he was caught. Desperately short of money he started working for people-smugglers. He was eventually arrested (one of the boats he organised sank, killing 96 asylum seekers, including two of Amiri’s friends) and sentenced to six years in Jakarta’s Cipinang prison.  

Confessions of a People-Smuggler
shows the human side of those seeking asylum and fleeing their home countries. Dawood Amiri’s story is one of unrelenting horror, tragedy and hopelessness; it reads like a mix between Hieronymus Bosch and Kafka. Amiri himself saw people smuggling as noble humanitarian work ‘to help my brother asylum-seekers’, work he did with ‘purity and pain in my heart’. Confessions is starkly written and compelling. It takes you into an underworld of desperate, stateless and unwanted people and shows a reality that so many of us turn away from.

Confessions of a People-Smuggler, by Dawood Amiri. Published by Scribe. ISBN: 9781925106091  RRP: $24.99

This review was first published in Books + Publishing magazine.

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