No Escape: The True Story of China's Genocide of the Uyghurs by Nury Turkel
Part memoir, part call-to-action, No Escape is the first major book to tell the story of the Chinese government’s terrible oppression of the Uyghur people from the inside, detailing labour camps, ethnic and religious oppression, forced sterilisation of women and the surveillance technology that have made Xinjiang “the most intensive surveillance state that the world has ever known”. The Uyghur crisis is becoming one of the greatest human rights crisis of the 21st century, a systematic cleansing of an entire race of people in the millions.
The Moore Prize jury called it “a rare perspective on a hidden genocide - something that not many people are in a position to write.”
Nury Turkel was born in a “re-education” camp in Kashgar, China at the height of the Cultural Revolution. He spent the first several months of his life in captivity with his mother, who was beaten and starved while pregnant with him, whilst his father served a penal sentence in an agricultural labour camp. Following this traumatic start, he was later able to travel to the US for his undergraduate studies and was granted asylum in the country in 1998. Now, as a human rights lawyer, he is a tireless and renowned activist for the plight of his people. He is currently the Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and Chairman of the Uyghur American Association. In 2020 he was chosen as one of TIME Magazine’s Most Influential People in the World and in 2021, one of Fortune’s 50 Greatest Leaders. He received the inaugural Notre Dame Prize for Religious Liberty.
The End of Where We Begin: A Refugee Story by Rosalind Russell
Russell creates a compelling portrait of three diverse individuals who escape South Sudan as civil war erupts. We are exposed to the heart-breaking stories of these people and their terrifying journeys to Bidi Bidi in Uganda, the world’s largest refugee camp. Russell exposes their loss of family, home and livelihood and their endless struggles to survive and live productive lives despite attack, injury, exile and trauma. The End of Where We Begin brings into focus a major human rights crisis that is often overlooked, and engages our hearts with vivid and moving stories of characters whose undaunted will prevails against overwhelming odds.
Going Home: A Walk Through Fifty Years of Occupation by Raja Shehadeh
On the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories Raja Shehadeh went for a walk in Ramallah. Shehadeh’s captivating narrative chronicles his day of walking through his home city on 5 June 2017. The landmarks he passes evoke anecdotes and reflections on the everyday impact of occupation on his family, his neighbours, and his professional life. His reflections roam through 50 years of “political defeats, frustrations and failures” after the Six Day War, including the periods of Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization, the never-solved murder of his father in 1986, the Oslo Accords, the two Intifadas, the Israeli settlements that continue to be “ever expanding” into occupied territory, the daily commutes of workers on foot through checkpoints, and soldiers’ killings of civilians including children. As the author describes walking by the office of Al Haq, the human rights organization he founded, he reflects on the futility of decades of human rights activism to date but articulates hope for Al Haq’s preparation of a war crimes case for the International Criminal Court. He imagines that “success in one case… would surely deter more soldiers from so brazenly violating Palestinian human rights.”
This book was selected as the winner of the Moore Prize 2020 because of the beauty of its writing and the author’s ability to convey the everyday realities of generations of ordinary Palestinians living under occupation. Readers will not come away from this book with a multi-party history, an analysis of Palestinian resistance to occupation, or a catalogue of human rights violations. Instead, the poignant power of Raja Shehadeh’s memoir draws the reader towards a sense of intimacy with the city and people of Ramallah trying to live their lives in dignity and peace.
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton
The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton is a personal memoir of struggle against the overwhelming hardship endured by the author during his 28 years on death row in an Alabama prison - for a crime evidence showed he did not commit. It was written in a moving, revealing and inspirational way that stood out from an already very strong short list of books.
Hinton’s story is one of the triumph of the human spirit over a system of ingrained racism, corruption and an unjust judicial system. The jury was struck by the way in which Hinton dealt with and thought about his treatment and his on going quest for justice. Despite the atrocities he faced, he never seemed to lose his optimism, warmth and drive for freedom. His prose is moving, revealing and never fails to inspire.
The Sun Does Shine highlights the human rights abuses endemic in the US justice system, a country that we don’t usually think of as a human rights abuser. This was a point that the jury felt was important to bring to light. This book did so in a way which is approachable and strongly supports the principles of the Moore Prize.
Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrisknan
By implication, Unnikrishman brings a new understanding to the refugee crises, forced migrations and the related abuses of our time, with this specific envisioning speaking to situations and experiences from around the world. The sad situation of the temporary people is that they are permanent transients. In addition to the Moore Foundation Award, the book has also received the coveted Hindu Literary Prize and the Restless Book Prize for New Immigrant Writing.
The fables, that at first glance seem crazed, turn out to be perfect metaphors of the tragedy endured by those who move to survive, or to follow the dream of finding better and living conditions. The book’s tales function like pieces of a puzzle, and we seek unities in the fragmented lives on offer. The individuals in this narrative take on all the dangerous and difficult jobs, knowing that they will never be eligible to participate fully in their surroundings, much less gain full citizenship.
Temporary People is Deepak Unnikrishman’s first book. A native of Kerala State, he has lived and taught in various US cities and in Abu Dhabi. The latter place is the setting for his ambitious and impressive suite of interlocking post-modernist stories that both dissect and document the lives of Asian and South Asian migrants who make up the majority of the tiny Middle Eastern country's population. The writing is painful and (surprisingly) fun.
Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship by Anjan Sundaram
Sundaram travels Rwanda, at great risk to himself, to discover scenes of devastation, huts with their roofs removed because they were considered primitive, children sick and old people untreated for malaria. This is not a hopeful book but it is an important one and is extremely well written.
Bad News is a very well written and gripping book exposing the dangers that journalists face in trying to report news in a dictatorship. As news reporting becomes ever more difficult, it shows how a climate of fear can gradually permeate everyone’s lives, destroying any attempts to tell the truth. Setting up a class to encourage local journalists, Sundaram describes how all his students end up being crushed by the system, either by giving in and writing pro-government propaganda or refusing and ending up in prison.