Children’s Books Ireland. Zana Fraillon, The Bone Sparrow.
Fraillon is a children’s author from Australia, moved to highlight the present day humanitarian crisis of asylum seekers and the routine internment of refugees. While her novel is fictional, it is founded in fact and focuses on the plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. The Bone Sparrow, like many books based on real events, is an exercise in empathy. Its charm depends on the reader’s engagement with the main protagonist. Subhi is an asylum seeker born in a refugee camp in present-day Australia whose fertile imagination powers a rich interior life. The fact that Subhi has known no other world outside of his ‘captivity’ allows the author to imbue him with wonder and innocence. Without bitterness he observes the cruelty and sadness of his situation, always holding on for ‘one day’ when it will all be better.