…Funder’s first year in New York was spent settling her family in and travelling to promote All that I Am, which was published in 20 countries. She did some journalism and worked for a charity called Icorn, the International Cities of Refuge Network that offers shelter for artists and writers facing persecution in their home countries, and continues to work with other writers such as Tom Keneally to lobby Melbourne and Sydney to become Icorn cities.
…In the past she spoke publicly about her horror of the Howard government’s treatment of asylum seekers. If anything the debate is now more rancorous and the international crisis more gut-wrenching.
As someone who worked in human rights law before becoming a writer, she feels an obligation to be involved but hasn’t quite caught up with the details of how Australia is treating asylum seekers and has a fear of being so sensitive to current events it prevents her from writing.
“Some things are just so awful, I don’t know, I’m not quite sure how I’m going to compartmentalise that,” she says.
“It can be kind of gutting, because if I’m writing about this country which I love on lots of levels, then I need to be aware of ugliness and human ugliness and political ugliness and all of those things but not be overcome by those things.”
She’s not in tears but her voice wavers a little. It might be the exhaustion, or something else.
“It’s an emotional thing writing a novel. If I was a political activist I’d be out there, but I’m not. I’ll do what I can.”
I hope she moves a few young male Muslim asylum seekers into her own home so she can enjoy their contributions.