Little Island signs Mitchell's middle-grade novel on Ireland's asylum system

Little Island signs Mitchell's middle-grade novel on Ireland's asylum system

Little Island Books has landed Jane Mitchell's "urgently needed" middle-grade novel on Ireland's asylum-seeker accommodation system.

Publisher Matthew Parkinson-Bennett signed the deal for world rights for Run for Your Life directly with the author. It publishes in April 2022 in paperback.

Thought to be the first children's book in English to shine a light on the experience of young people living in Direct Provision, Ireland's asylum accommodation system, the title has been praised by the Immigrant Council of Ireland for "showing the fragile yet resilient humanity at the heart of refugee journeys — it is a book which should make us all reflect on how we in more peaceful, prosperous and safe countries receive those seeking protection".

As part of the launch of Run for Your Life, Mitchell will be running creative writing workshops with young asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland.

"Azari and her mother have fled their own hot, bright country, and are now living in a bleak Direct Provision Centre in damp, grey, confusing Ireland," the synopsis explains. "They miss home desperately, yet any return would only mean their death. The one bright spot for Azari is the time she spends running with her new Irish friend."

Parkinson-Bennett said: "It is believed that 30% of the almost 7,000 people living in Direct Provision in Ireland are children. These young people have travelled far from their homes to exercise their right to claim asylum and are now caught in a system which shames the nation – the latest chapter of Ireland's troubled history of incarceration of minors. A book exploring this reality is urgently needed and Jane, one of Ireland's finest children's writers, has written a sensitive and powerful story, carefully researched despite the obstacles the state puts in the way of anyone seeking to understand the reality of Direct Provision."

Mitchell works in disability provision in Ireland. She has written several books for children, including A Dangerous Crossing (Little Island), which told the story of Syrian refugees. She has won awards in Ireland and the UK, including the Bisto Book of the Year, Children's Books Ireland Merit Award, Reading Association of Ireland Merit Award and Children’s Choice award. Her books have been listed on the school curriculum in Ireland and Brazil.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to have been given this opportunity by Little Island to tell Azari’s tale in Run For Your Life," she said. "Her story is based on the interrupted lives of thousands of people in Direct Provision in Ireland—many of whom are traumatised by war, displacement, and persecution. They wait for months, sometimes years, for a decision about their futures, trying to live a life with dignity in the most undignified of circumstances. I hope I have done them justice.”