Safe Haven by Shankari Chandran

Set in a detention centre in Port Camden, Safe Haven focuses on the lives of refugees after their perilous journeys. As Shankari Chandran writes, they trade the prison of the home they ran away from, the wars, atrocities and violence, for another kind of prison, one sanctioned by Western policies that brand themselves as charitable. People who’ve survived the worst the world can throw at them are broken by the reality of the ‘asylum’ they’ve been granted, and it’s this reality that our main character, Serafina, has to reveal to the public.

Sister Serafina Daniels is a Tamil nun who escaped with others from the civil war in Sri Lanka through multiple ships and eventually a frail boat, losing tens of lives along the way. Near drowning, the boat is miraculously rescued by a nearby passenger vessel that hears their emergency call. Afforded asylum on the ‘Safe Haven’ visa, she works as a pastoral care worker for others in the centre, however, she’s arrested when she’s unable to keep her silence about the reality of their conditions. The arrest kickstarts her involvement in a greater conspiracy surrounding the detention centre, one that threatens her life and the comfortable reality the government and many Australians have chosen to live in.

Safe Haven is ultimately about the ugliness in our society that makes the human desire for love, safety and belonging a privilege afforded only to a few. Chandran has finetuned her skill of creating visceral characters rooted in reality; her writing style is atmospheric and immersive, incredibly plot-driven and has a strong message. Her experiences in law and social justice are evident in the skill of her research. Despite it all, the human core of the novel shines through: the kindness of the characters, the lengths they go to save each other and the futures they believe in.

Cover image for Safe Haven

Safe Haven

Shankari Chandran

In stock at 8 shops, ships in 3-4 daysIn stock at 8 shops