Communication across borders: real-time 'memoir' as literary journalism for mobility justice in the work of Wang Fang and Behrouz Boochani

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the notion of real-time “memoir” doubling as literary journalism to overcome geographic im/mobility and communicate across physical and political borders in the quest for social justice. It focusses on two writers whose work uses their personal experiences to witness their time in different forms of government-enforced ‘incarceration’ while shining a light on the effects on individuals of government policy and practice. Fang Fang (the nom de plume of Wang Fang), posted nightly about her experiences and those of her family and neighbours in the quarantined city of Wuhan, China, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. The internet posts drew an international audience and were collated and published in the West as Wuhan Diary in June 2020. Behrouz Boochani’s award-winning book, No Friend but the Mountains, was written on contraband cell phones and published to international acclaim in 2018. It describes the circumstances of the refugees and asylum seekers until recently detained by the Australian government on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea to prevent their resettlement in Australia. In different ways, both writers use the personal experience, observation and reflection usually found in
memoir as a leaping off point to perform literary journalism, in circumstances where the opportunities for immersive reporting by journalists was unavailable. Their writings prompt questions about im/mobility justice and literary journalism, and their intersection with modern communication technologies. In particular, they provoke consideration of the role literary journalism can play--with its acceptance of subjectivities, use of narrative techniques and ability to foster empathy—in its use of such technologies to enable reporting across closed borders on matters that are intensely local but at the same time of great global concern.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial justice and literary journalism
EditorsWilla McDonald, Robert Alexander
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Wang Fang
  • Behrouz Boochani
  • Mobility Justice
  • Memoir
  • Literary Journalism
  • Social Justice


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