Resisting Confinement Through Translation: Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend But the Mountains

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Behrouz Boochani’s No Friend but the Mountains gives a horrifying yet poetic account of the torture he endured on Manus Island in immigration detention. His work, written in Farsi and translated into English from thousands of text messages, was first published in English so as to give voice to Australia’s dehumanizing treatment of refugees in both a national and global discourse. This essay presents No Friend as the expression of a translating|translated self, positing that it imagines new possibilities for the narration of identity and, more specifically, of Australianness. By focusing on the bordering of translation, the essay contrasts Boochani’s expression of selfhood, which integrates linguistic, geographic, and literary borders, with a national identity that relies on unbreachable borders between us and them, Australia and Manus Island. It concludes that by using translation as an origin, like No Friend does, it is possible to conceive of an inclusive and decolonizing Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-542
Number of pages20
JournalAuto/Biography Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Borders
  • Refugee and asylum seeker
  • identity
  • Translation

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