Fiction books for adults


Dark Moments (2016)

By A. S. Napoli

Sometimes the healing only begins when you come across others in worse situations than your own.
U. S. war correspondent Chuck Jennings suffers from burnout and depression. He has reached his breaking point. It takes a chance meeting with a stranger to coax him back to life.
Fate intervenes to unite their troubled souls, but are they really kindred spirits? They find out as they wade through the detritus
of the illegal Rohingya refugee camp
in Bangladesh.
There, they discover the healing process begins
when they battle their demons by
getting in touch with their emotions.


By  A.S. Patric

Black Rock White City is an essential story of Australia’s suburbs now, of displacement and immediate threat, and the unexpected responses of two refugees as they try to reclaim their dreams. It is a breathtaking roar of energy that explores the immigrant experience with ferocity, beauty and humor.

Under the Persimmon Tree (2005)

By Suzanne Fisher-Staples

This widely acclaimed novel explores the relationship between a young American woman and an Afghan girl, Najmah, who is all alone in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. The story follows Najmah’s perilous journey through the mountains in search for safety and refuge in Pakistan.

A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007)

By Khaled Hosseini

Set against the backdrop of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban, this novel follows the intersecting stories of two Afghan women. It provides an insight into the lives of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime.

The Kite Runner (2003)

By Khaled Hosseini

This novel tells the story of the friendship between Amir, the son of a wealthy Pashtun merchant, and Hassan, the son of a Hazara servant. It follows the flight of Amir’s family from Afghanistan in the wake of the Soviet invasion and the persecution of Hazaras under the Taliban.

Non-fiction books for adults

The Optician of Lampedusa (2016)

By Emma Jane Kirby

More than 360 people died in the disaster off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy on October 3, 2013. Carmine Mena, the only optician on the island, and his seven friends managed to save 47 people (his boat was designed to hold ten people). Hundreds died. This is a poignant and unforgettable account that brings home the reality of an ongoing refugee crisis that has resulted in one of the most massive migrations in human history.

More to the Story: Conversations with refugees (2015)

By Rosemary Sayer

More to the Story had its genesis in unease with the negative, often politicised debate dehumanising refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. Over several years the author, based in Western Australia, conducted interviews with former refugees and asylum seekers from Burma, Afghanistan and South Sudan and uncovered powerful, moving and incredibly personal stories.

The People Smuggler (2012)

By Robin de Crespigny

At once a non-fiction thriller and a moral maze, this is one man’s epic story of trying to find a safe place in the world.

The Suitcase: Refugee Voices from Bosnia and Croatia (1997)

By Rada Boric, Julie Mertus, Jasmina Tesanovic and Habiba Metikos

This is powerful collection of memoirs – including essays, letters, and poems – from refugees fleeing Bosnia and Croatia during the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia. Contributors from all ethnic groups and every region of Bosnia and Croatia describe their loved ones, their sense of community and their towns and homes that they have had to leave behind. These stories tell of perseverance, brutality, exile, and courage.

The Happiest Refugee: A Memoir (2010)

By Anh Do

One of Australia’s best-loved comedians, Anh Do, depicts his incredible, uplifting and inspiring life story. In his memoir he tells of his family’s treacherous journey from war-torn Vietnam, surviving starvation and pirates in an overcrowded boat. He describes the pleasures and the pitfalls as he grew up in Australia as an outsider, and the struggles that his family faced. This heart-warming book captures Ahn’s gratitude for what he has, and his hope for the future.

What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (2006)

By Dave Eggers

This is the story of Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee in war-ravaged southern Sudan who flees from his village in the mid-1980s and becomes one of the so-called Lost Boys. Valentino’s travels bring him in contact with enemy soldiers, with liberation rebels, with hyenas and lions, with disease and starvation, and with deadly murahaleen (militias on horseback) the same sort who currently terrorize Darfur. Eventually Deng is resettled in the United States with almost 4000 other young Sudanese men, and a very different struggle begins.

Child Soldier (2004)

By China Keitetsi

This is a powerful true story of Keitetsi, a child soldier who joined the Ugandan National Resistance Army at just eight years old. Her story details the abuse she suffered at the hands of her officers and how she finally escaped to Europe to start a new life. Now living in Denmark, she is an international campaigner on child soldiers.

Lives in Limbo: Voices of Refugees Under Temporary Protection (2004)

By Michael Leach and Fethi Mansouri

In this book, 35 refugees mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan talk directly about their quest for asylum in Australia. They provide poignant details of persecution in their home country, their journey to Australia, prolonged periods of mandatory detention, and life as temporary protection visa (TPV) holders. While the temporary protection visa regime has since been dismantled, their stories remain pertinent.

Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees (2005)

By Caroline Moorehead

This book looks at ‘human cargo’ from Afghanistan, Liberia, Palestine and many other places. Moorehead has visited war zones, camps, prisons – and the Dinka families from the Sudan who were re-settled north of the Arctic Circle in Finland. She follows the fate of 57 young member of the Mandingo tribe, who fled ethnic cleansing and ended up happily in America via Egypt.

Little Daughter: A Memoir of Survival in Burma and the West (2009)

By Zoya Phan and Damien Lewis

Zoya Phan was born to committed resistance fighters in the Karen State of Burma. Despite the civil conflict under the nation’s brutal military regime, Zoya’s early years were blissfully removed from the war. However, at the age of fourteen, Zoya’s childhood was shattered as the Burmese army attacked and her family was forced to flee. Zoya joined thousands of refugees hiding in the jungle, before she sought refuge across the border in a Thai refugee camp. With her enemies still pursuing her, in 2004 she fled to the UK and claimed asylum, where she now acts as the face for UK’s Burma Campaign.

Alek: Sudanese Refugee to International Supermodel (2007)

By Alek Wek

Alek Wek grew up in the Sudan in the midst of the vicious civil war. Now, at age 28, she is one of the most sought-after supermodels in the world; as a model, refugee activist and businesswoman she is a worldwide inspiration. This remarkable real-life story sheds light on her journey from war-torn Sudan, her escape to London at the age of fourteen, all the way to new beginnings in New York. Alek’s memoir is a poignant and powerful story that gives an unforgettable insight into her rise to fame and her dedication to refocus the world’s attention on those she left behind in the Sudan.

Fiction books for children

Along the Tracks (1991)

By Tamar Bergman

This story recounts the adventures of a young Jewish boy who is driven from his home by the German invasion, becomes a refugee in the Soviet Union, is separated from his family, and undergoes many hardships before enjoying a normal home again.

Christophe’s Story (2006)

By Nicki Cornwell

This book tells the story of eight-yearold Christophe who flees the fighting in Rwanda to come to England as a refugee with his family. It is about his difficulty settling in to his new home and also about the notion of telling stories and awareness-raising.

The Red Shadow (1998)

By Shelley Davidow

Miri, a young refugee girl, returns home to her village after the end of the war. The story follows the rebuilding of her village and Miri’s reunification with her brother and, eventually, her father.

Walk in My Shoes (2004)

By Alwyn Evans

Aimed at secondary students, this book tells of an Afghan refugee, Gulnessa, who struggles to establish a life for herself and her family in Australia. They are confined in a detention centre for asylum seekers, and forced to prove their refugee status.

Boy Overboard (2002)

By Morris Gleitzman

Morris Gleitzman writes of Jamal, who just wants to play football, but with a sister defying Taliban curfews and parents running an illegal school, his problems escalate until the whole family must flee Afghanistan in search of refuge in Australia. Serious themes and dilemmas are presented with a large ration of humour and morals derived from the beautiful game: namely, never give up!

Girl Underground (2004)

By Morris Gleitzman

This novel tells the story of Bridget and Menzies, who devise a daring plan to rescue two kids, Jamal and Bibi, from a desert detention centre.

Soraya the Storyteller (2004)

By Rosanne Hawke

Aimed at upper primary students, this story tells of 11 year old Soraya. Soraya is an asylum seeker from Afghanistan living under the shadow of Australia’s former temporary protection visa system. As she adapts to life in Australia, she is haunted by both her father’s absence and the fear that she may have to return to Afghanistan. To console herself, she begins writing stories.

Kiss the Dust (1991)

By Elizabeth Laird

This book tells the story of Tara and her family as they are forced to flee Iraq because of her father’s involvement in the Kurdish resistance movement.

The Other Side of Truth (2000)

By Beverley Naidoo

Aimed at teenagers, this topical novel is set during 1995 in the aftermath of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s execution in Nigeria for alleged political crimes. It tackles multiple themes, most importantly injustice, the right to freedom of speech, the complexities of political asylum, bullying and, ultimately, the strength of the family.

Home is a Place Called Nowhere (2002)

By Leon Rosselson

Suitable for teenagers, this topical, fast-paced novel deals with issues of discrimination and prejudice against refugees. Amina runs away to London after a crisis in her adoptive family, hoping to track down her mother and to discover the truth about her apparent abandonment. Paul, an older and more streetwise runaway, helps her to make contact with the refugee community. It is by listening to other people and their stories that she comes, finally, to understand her own.

Refugee Boy (2001)

Benjamin Zephaniah

This is a powerful novel that tells of Alem who, during a holiday from his native Ethiopia, is left alone in London by his parents due to their political problems in their home country.

Non-fiction books for children and young adults

For Every Child (2000)

Adapted by Caroline Castle

For Every Child is picture book which details the 15 most important rights of the child. Each right has a specific illustration in a different style by a different artist around the world. This could lead to a discussion about why people may have to flee from their own country.

W is for World: Around the World ABC (1998)

By Kathryn Cave (in conjunction with Oxfam)

This alphabet book looks at the daily life of adults and children around the world. Suitable for 5-9 year olds, it encouraging a message about basic human rights of shelter, food, water, health and education.

Dark Dreams: Australian Refugee Stories by Young Writers aged 11-20 (2004)

Edited by Sonja Dechian, Heather Millar and Eva Sallis

An anthology of essays, interviews, and stories on various aspects of the refugee experience, written by children and young adults.

Children of War: Iraqi Refugees Speak (2009)

By Deborah Ellis

Written five years after the US and it allies invaded Iraq – but with true democracy still out of sight – Deborah Ellis turns her attention to the war’s most tragic victims: Iraqi children. She interviews more than 20 young Iraqis, mostly refugees living in Jordan, but also a few trying to build new lives in North America. Some families left Iraq with money; others are penniless, ill, or disabled. Most of the parents are working illegally or not at all, and the fear of deportation is a constant threat. The children speak for themselves, with little editorial comment, and their stories are frank, harrowing, and often reveal a surprising resilience in surviving the consequences of a war in which they played no part.

Jumping to Heaven (2004)

By Katherine Goode

Children from Bosnia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Herzegovina, Iraq, Sudan, and Vietnam who have come to Australia to escape persecution are given a voice in this collection of short stories compiled from interviews with refugees. Written for a more mature youth, the stories evoke the sad, scary, thought-provoking, and sometimes amusing experiences of children and families who have displayed extraordinary courage and hope. This collection offers insight that seeks to bridge the gap between refugees and their new host communities, and gives youth a global perspective on the refugee experience.

Living in Australia Series: Sudanese Australians (2008)

By Robert Gott

This non-fiction book uses a variety of interviews to look into the customs and traditions of the Sudanese people living in Australia.

Refugee: It Happened to Me (2005)

By Angela Neustatter and Helen Elliott

This book features extended interviews with six children and young adults who are refugees or asylum seekers. They came from various countries including Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan and Romania. The interviews are carefully constructed to cover both the emotional as well as the practical consequences of their refugee experiences. The aim is not to be sensational but, rather, empathetic and informative. Talking points and black and white photographs are also included.

Why do they have to fight? Refugee children’s stories from Bosnia, Kurdistan, Somalia and Sri Lanka (1998)

By Jill Rutter and Mano Candappa

Most of the testimonies used in this book were collected during a research project about refugee children. The books serves as a valuable resource for teachers, with the issues behind asylum and refugees are brought to life by these children’s stories and testimonies.

Gervelie’s Journey (2008)

By Anthony Robinson and Annemarie Young

This is a true story of a young refugee. In 1995, Gervelie was born in the Republic of Congo. In 1997 fighting broke out in her home city and they had to flee to safety. Her father’s political connections mean that they are still unable to return home. This is Gervelie’s story, told using photographs from her own life. At the time of writing, Gervelie and her father were living in the UK, waiting to hear if their case for asylum would be accepted.

Mohammed’s Journey (2009)

By Anthony Robinson and Annemarie Young

This story tells of Mohammed, who flees Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with his mother after his father is abducted by soldiers. It follows his escape from Iraq by bus, on horseback, in a small boat on a raging river and finally, hiding in a lorry on a ship. It covers his journey from Kirkuk to the Iraq-Iran border, through Iran, into Turkey and then on to England and safety.

Hazmat’s Journey (2009)

By Anthony Robinson

This story tells of Hazmat from Chechnya, who stepped on a landmine on his way to school. His leg had to be amputated and eventually he and his father came to the UK for expert treatment. As it was unsafe for them to return home, the family sought asylum in the UK. Eventually Hazmat’s mother and sister joined them in London and now the family are learning to adapt to their new life after the horror of living in a war zone. This poignant, and at times harrowing, story reveals the bravery of Hazmat and his family in facing and overcoming their circumstances to start a new life.

Meltem’s Journey (2010)

By Anthony Robinson

Meltem’s Journey describes as a family flees the Kurdish region of Turkey after Meltem’s father is badly beaten by soldiers. When their application for asylum is rejected in Germany, they undertake a desperate journey to Britain, unable to return to Turkey because of the circumstances of their departure. It takes 9 years for their application to succeed in Britain, but not before many stressful incidents, periods of detention and threats of deportation. Meltem’s story is told in her own words, in diary format, and conveys memorably the emotional highs and lows of her experiences.

Mapping Global Issues: Immigrants and Refugees (2012)

By Cath Senker

This information book quotes extensively from mixed-media sources to examine responses to refugee issues in different parts of the world and to debate notions of bias and prejudice. Combining photographs and varied texts in a lively format, it presents real-life case studies showing why people become refugees alongside a range of media viewpoints on their treatment in host societies.

Picture books

Rainbow Bird (2007)

By Czenya Cavouras

Rainbow Bird is a deeply moving children’s picture book written and illustrated by 14 year old Czenya Cavouras, who is now in high school. It tells the story of a refugee journey from a destroyed homeland to a desolate detention centre and finally, to future of hope. Rainbow Bird is quietly harrowing, has a unique author voice, and is ultimately inspiring and uplifting.

The Little Refugee (2011)

By Anh Do

Based on the autobiographical novel by comedian Anh Do, this book tells the inspiring and uplifting story of Anh’s family from their dangerous journey by boat from Vietnam to their struggle to establish a new life in Australia.

Letters to Grandma Grace (1999)

By Victoria Francis

An African refugee family’s experiences in their country of asylum are told through letters from the children to their Grandma Grace. The letters illustrate the difficulties and hardships they face in adapting to their new home.

The Island (2007)

By Armin Greder

This book is a metaphorical account of the way in which prejudice and fear create artificial barriers between people which they use to exclude others in order to ‘protect’ themselves. It offers reasons for why refugees exist and why detention centres and refugee camps have become so prevalent throughout the world.

My Dog (2001)

By John Heffernan

My Dog is a very moving, understated story in picture book format suitable for 8-12 year olds. Seen through the eyes of a young boy, it tells of the terrible suffering as a consequence of ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. This book would serve as a moving introduction to discussion on human rights and suffering.

The Colour of Home (2002)

By Mary Hoffman

This book is about the difficulties refugees may face adjusting to a new environment. Hassan feels out of place in a new, cold, grey country. At school, he paints a picture showing his colourful Somalian home, covered with the harsh colours of war from which his family has fled. He tells his teacher about their voyage from Mogadishu to Mombasa, then to the refugee camp and on to England. But gradually things change. When Hassan’s parents put up his next picture on the wall, Hassan notices the maroon prayer mat, a bright green cushion and his sister Naima’s pink dress: the new colours of home.

My Brother is a Soldier (1999)

By Clare M. G. Kemp

This story tells of the return of a child soldier to his village in Africa and the problems he faces in trying to reintegrate and lead a normal life.

Cry Baby (1998)

By Lynn Kramer

Cry Baby is a story of a young refugee girl who finds herself in a new home after fleeing from war. Zione has difficulty making new friends because the other children see her as different. However, she overcomes this by demonstrating through a heroic act that she is really no different from the other children.

On the Other Side of the Hill (1999)

By Sibylla Martin

In this story, Jacques finds himself in a refugee camp and has trouble making friends with the local children. However, a football match between the children from the refugee camp and the local populations brings the children together.

The Lost Children (1998)

By Sibylla Martin

The Lost Children recounts the story of how young Ibuka becomes separated from her family when fleeing her home and comes to find herself, along with her younger brother, at a centre for lost children.

Refugees (2005)

By David Miller

In David Miller’s book, two wild ducks become refugees when their swamp is drained. Their journey in search of a new place to live exposes them to danger, rejection and violence before they are given a new home. Their story is told with brightly coloured three-dimensional paper sculptures in this attractive picture book for young children.

Grandfather’s Journey (1993)

By Allen Say

This is picture book is suitable for students aged nine and over. Allen Say’s grandfather made the journey from Japan to the United States when he was a young man and this story beautifully describes through text and illustrations the love that he and his grandson feel for both countries. Many students will relate to the feelings of longing that are captured.

The Arrival (2007)

By Shaun Tan

This is a text-less picture book which tells the story of an immigrant’s journey to a new land where he knows no one and understands very little. Yet on his arrival to the new country, he meets friends who help him and tell stories about how they too came to the new land. Through these stories children can learn about the experiences of a variety of immigrant families.

A Safe Place to Live (2011)

By Bic Walker

A true story based on the journey of the author’s family from Vietnam to Austalia as refugees in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

One Day We Had To Run: Refugee children tell their stories in words and paintings (1995)

By Sybella Wilkes

This book tells the stories of three children who were forced to become refugees. The children’s stories and paintings are set against background information about Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia, which helps to explain why refugees have been forced to flee from these countries. The roles of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Save the Children are outlined, and ideas for using this book in the school classroom are also included.

Brothers in Hope: Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan (2005)

By Mary Williams

Based on true events, this moving picture book tells the story of Garang, an eight-year-old Sudanese boy forced to embark on an epic journey across deserts and mountains to Ethiopia and eventually to Kenya after his family and village are overtaken by war whilst he is away tending cattle. He joins a band of over 1,000 boys, some as young as five, who share his predicament. Despite the hardships of a perilous journey and years spent in refugee camps, Garang occupies himself with the welfare of younger boys, seizes any educational opportunity, and never loses hope of a new life in a permanent place of safety.