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Unknown : A Refugee's Story - Akuch Kuol Anyieth

Unknown

A Refugee's Story

By: Akuch Kuol Anyieth

Paperback | 3 May 2022

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A moving, confronting and ultimately uplifting story about a young girl’s escape, with her family, from war-torn South Sudan to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, and then to Australia.

In 1996, when Akuch Kuol Anyieth is five, her mother flees to Kakuma with her children, intent on finding safety and freedom for her family, while her husband stays behind in South Sudan to fight in the civil war. The family spends nine years in the camp, eking out an existence amidst famine, disease, unbearable heat, and chronic violence. Despite their suffering, Akuch never loses hope or her sense of humour. She’s a bright student who loves learning and does well at the local school.

In 2005, the family is finally granted a family humanitarian visa to Australia. They are on the way to paradise. But the reality of their new lives in Melbourne is complex. As Akuch’s brother’s behaviour spirals out of control, the family find themselves isolated and struggling with various forms of racism.

But Akuch is determined. She learns English from scratch, excels in her educational achievements, and tries to live the life of a regular teenager. Above all she does everything she can to help her family emerge from the bonds of violence.

Akuch Kuol Anyieth’s Unknown is a remarkable memoir. It’s a homage to the strength of her mother in protecting her family against all the odds, a story of sadness, anger, humour, determination, survival and love.

About the Author

Akuch Kuol Anyieth is a graduate researcher in crime, justice and legal studies. Her research engages with masculinity and domestic violence, examining customary law, pre- and post-migration experiences of South Sudanese families and how they adapt to the western rule of law in the diaspora. She is a frequent contributor to discussions about her community.

Her book South Sudanese Manhood and Family Crisis in the Diaspora was published in February 2021. She lives in Melbourne.
Industry Reviews
‘An engagingly written and insightful story of love and trauma…Unflinching in its honesty.’
Guardian

‘A haunting, behind-the-headlines refugee tale. [Akuch Kuol Anyieth] charts in measured, vivid writing a most extraordinary life…In many ways, she’s bravely examining the contrasting worlds she’s experienced, with determination and remarkable poise.’
Age

‘[A] powerful book…a book of advocacy. It breaks the silence around the African-Australian experience, which has long enabled systemic discrimination and racism towards South Sudanese refugees in Australia…Ferociously intelligent…addressing the problems of gender, race and migration in Australia today. [Anyieth] represent[s] a new generation of writers engaging with the trauma of their and their parents’ pasts…not quite belonging in a country that is still not reconciled to its history of violence and dispossession…star[ing] a certain kind of Australia in the face and demand[ing] to be heard.’
Conversation

‘Powerful and unflinchingly honest.’
West Australian

‘An extraordinary insight into Sudanese culture… [and] an outstanding memoir that captures the incredible resilience of a family forced to abandon everything they know. It offers the opportunity to reflect on and unearth our own prejudices and discriminatory behaviour against refugees.’
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