No Friend but the Mountains, the award-winning book by Kurdish-Iranian journalist, writer and film-maker Behrouz Boochani chronicling his perilous journey as a refugee and his incarceration on Manus Island, is the inspiration for a new symphonic song cycle to be premiered by the Zelman Symphony Orchestra.

Behrouz Boochani Behrouz Boochani. Photo © Hoda Afshar

Australian composer Luke Styles will set text from Boochani’s poetic and harrowing memoir, which was written under extraordinary circumstances – typed as hundreds of text messages on a smuggled mobile phone and translated from Farsi by Omid Tofighian. It went on to become an international best-seller and to win a swathe of prizes including the Victorian Prize for Literature and the Prize for Non-Fiction at the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, the 2019 NSW Premier’s Award, the 2019 National Biography and more.

Boochani, who was incarcerated on Manus Island from 2013 to 2019, is now living free in New Zealand where his refugee status was formally recognised and he has been granted a visa to live.

The new song cycle, which was intended to premiere in...

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