33 Bullets

I’ve just moved to Lancaster and been asked to stand in at the last minute for tonight’s North West Literary Salon, organised by Lancaster Universities Yvonne Battle Felton, and PhD graduate Naomi Kruger.

It’s a while since I read my story ’33 Bullets’ but it seems fitting with this week’s refugee crisis. If there is any wonder at the UK government’s response to the crisis and refusal to take in refugees, then a look at their general approach to asylum applications and the baroque and Kafkesque legal system will show this attitude as coming at no surprise. How the Home Office deals with asylum applications is inhumane and degrading, positioning the applicant as a liar, who has to prove she is legitimately fleeing persecution.

In ’33 Bullets’ I explore the horrors of the legal system and the detention of asylum seekers as if they are criminals through the eyes of a Kurdish academic. Despite being imprisoned in a detention centre, he continued his work writing about the Kurdish poet Ahmed Arif, and his poem ’33 Bullets’. But at the same time, his cell mate is plotting something more radical.  The story includes excerpts from the Devrim’s imagined court proceedings, and when I first read the story out, I found that the voice in the proceedings took on a voice of rather small minded and nasty official. It’s the space between the awful legal language used to prove someone is ‘lying’ and the voice of Devrim that for me, is the conflict in the story.

Of course, Devrim is not a real person. But there are still many asylum seekers locked in detention centres in the UK. And they are often forgotten.

This is the original poem, ‘33 Bullets‘ and the translator, Murat Nemat Nejat authorised the quotations in my story.


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