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 Unknownis 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.
Akuch Kuol Anyiethis 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 Diasporawas published in February 2021. She lives in Melbourne.
'This is a compelling story about what it means to be a black refugee in Australia, told with fierce intelligence and urgency. Everyone who has worked with, befriended or cares about our 'unknown' refugees should read Akuch's book.' Alice Pung, author of Unpolished Gemand Her Father's Daughter
'Heartbreaking. Raw. Real. Unknown is the story every Australian needs to know.' Michael Mohammed Ahmad, award-winning author of The Lebs
'Unknownis a spellbinding, incandescent book that I simply could not put down. Its power and amazing grace lie in making me realise that I was truly blind, but now, with the unsparing acuity of Akuch Anyieth's words, perhaps now I can see. Brutal, honest and devastatingly topical, Uknownneeds to be on every school reading list. This is more than a refugee story. It is a passionate appeal for justice, mercy and peace. An absolute triumph.' Clare Wright, author of The Forgotten Rebels of Eurekaand You Daughters of Freedom
'Akuch Kuol Anyieth's story is unwavering in its power, insight and grace. A riveting, necessary book.' Sarah Krasnostein, author of The Trauma Cleanerand The Believer
'A remarkable story told by a remarkable woman. This book demands readers to bear witness to the reality of black refugee experience in Australia. A true testament to the strength of a family, told with honesty, clarity, and love.' Sara El Sayed, author of Muddy People