Shadow attorney general cites Refugee Tales as major inspiration

Press Office

Writing in The Guardian Shami Chakrabarti said she considers Refugee Tales, a book compiled by Professor David Herd from the School of English, as a major work of civil activism.

She chose Refugee Tales with particular relevance to the ongoing hunger strike taking place at the Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

‘Speaking of humanity, I write fresh from a demoralising visit to a place of indefinite incarceration, Yarl’s Wood detention centre,’ she wrote.

Refugee Tales, the book produced by the charity Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, brings together the stories of individuals caught up in the refugee crisis, retold by poets and novelists.

‘These are presented as modern-day counterparts to the stories in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, re‑humanising people our society so often vilifies. If ever there were a cause that demanded action, this is surely it.’

Refugee Tales began life in 2015 with a walk across South East England and a book of poems and stories designed to raise the plight of those held in indefinite detention in the UK.

The walk has taken place again in 2016 and 2017 and is planned for July 6 – 11 in 2018. Several notable novelists and poets have taken part in Refugee Tales in the past, including Ali Smith, Abdulrazak Gurnah and Olivia Laing.

The book was chosen alongside others including Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, The Rule of Law by Tom Bingham and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.