A Country of Refuge
By Lucy Popescu
An Anthology of Writing on Asylum Seekers from Britain and Ireland's Finest Voices edited
Friday, 18 September 2015
100 percent and ready to go
A big thank you to all supporters of A Country of Refuge. We have now reached 100 percent. Given recent events and the urgency of the situation for refugees seeking sanctuary, we have decided to push ahead with the book. My aunt, the writer Josephine Pullein-Thompson, was General Secretary and then President of English PEN and for many years campaigned tirelessly for writers’ free expression and human rights. She taught me the importance of campaigning and fighting for change. She died last year and I felt it was fitting that I use some of the legacy she left me to pay the contributors’ fees myself in order to move this book forward. Unbound also recognise the book’s importance and are waiving further costs. This helped us to reach the 100 percent mark now. Hopefully we will recuperate these production costs at some stage. Your support remains essential and the campaign goes on so please continue to spread the word and encourage others to pledge.
I first conceived of this project twenty-one months ago after receiving a copy of A Country Too Far, co-edited by Australians Rosie Scott and Tom Keneally, who were attempting to set the record straight about asylum seekers in Australia and to protest at the government's treatment of them. Featuring some of Australia's finest writers, it is an immensely readable, humane collection of fiction, memoir, poetry and essays. They had no trouble finding a mainstream publisher. There was an intense auction which Penguin won and it was published in October 2013 to great acclaim.
For A Country of Refuge, I quickly got some amazing writers on board and immediately set about trying to find a suitable publisher here. My wonderful agent, Andrew Lownie, tried a number of mainstream publishers but drew a blank. I then spent a further year trying the smaller independent imprints with no success. Thankfully, in June Unbound came on board. It’s been a long, hard process getting this anthology out there. Finally the end is in sight.
Thank you to you all and please keep spreading the word. Lucy