Our Book of the Week is Beneath the Darkening Sky, the powerful and unsettling debut novel from Majok Tulba.
Majok Tulba arrived in Australia from Sudan in 2001, having narrowly missed out on being recruited as a child soldier. When his village was invaded by Sudanese Armed Forces he was only excused from enforced recruitment because he was shorter than an AK-47. His debut novel is a 'what if' story; what if he had been those few inches taller?
For those of us who have lived in middle-class Australia for most, if not all, of our lives, Tulba's story can be a challenging one to read and understand, but it is also incredibly important to try do this. As Kabita Dhara says in her review, 'Beneath the Darkening Sky is an important addition to Australian literature, not only because of its eloquent and heartfelt examination of humanity under duress, but also for the insights it might offer us into the lives of some of our newest Australians.'
Australian author, Alice Pung, who has written about her experiences as a child of a genocide-survivor in the memoir Her Father's Daughter, echoed this statement in her interview with Tulba, calling the book, 'a necessary tale to tell'. In the interview, she and Majok talked about the need to sometimes fictionalise these stories to make them more accessible for a 'Western audience'. Majok says, 'There are far more vivid images I have seen, and I had to scale back the reality of much that occurs there, because the Western reader would be appalled.’
Beneath the Darkening Sky is now out in paperback ($24.95).