Deng Adut's family were farmers in South Sudan when a brutal civil war altered his life forever. At six years old, his mother was told she had to give him up to fight. At the age most Australian children are starting school , Deng was conscripted into the Sudan People's Liberation Army. He began a harsh, relentless military training that saw this young boy trained to use an AK-47 and sent into battle. He lost the right to be a child. He lost the right to learn. The things Deng saw over those years will stay with him forever. He suffered from cholera, malaria and numerous other debilitating illnesses but still he had to fight. A child soldier is expected to kill or be killed and Deng almost died a number of times. He survived being shot in the back. The desperation and loneliness was overwhelming. He thought he was all alone. But Deng was rescued from war by his brother John. Hidden in the back of a truck, he was smuggled out of Sudan and into Kenya. Here he lived in refugee camps until he was befriended by an Australian couple. With their help and the support of the UN, Deng Adut came to Australia as a refugee. Despite physical injuries and mental trauma he grabbed the chance to make a new life. He worked in a local service station and learnt English watching The Wiggles. He taught himself to read and started studying at TAFE. In 2005 he enrolled in a Bachelor of Law at Western Sydney University. He and his brother John were the first people in his family to graduate from university. This is an inspiring story of a man who has overcome deadly adversity to become a lawyer and committed worker for the disenfranchised, helping refugees in Western Sydney. It is an important reminder of the power of compassion and the benefit to us all when we open our doors and our hearts to fleeing war, persecution and trauma.

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Critic Reviews (3)

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Critical Consensus: Good.

100 Percent Rock Magaz

30 Nov 2016
NSW Australian of the Year, Deng Thiak Adut, is nothing short of an inspiration. A lawyer with a keen interest in social justice, Adut was born in Southern Sudan and conscripted to fight for the rebels at the age of seven. Songs of a War Boy describe ...

Sight Magazine

23 Nov 2016
This book tells an extraordinary story of hope…but also a story which will, at the very least, leave you with a sense of frustration. The hope can be seen in the story of Deng Thiak Adut, a boy born in a small village in what is now South Sudan who ...

Sydney Morning Herald<

05 Nov 2016
Being a poor Sudanese kid in the early ’90s was never going to be great. Since 1956 Africa’s “forgotten war” in Sudan had pitted the Khartoum-based Islamic government against the mostly Christian and animist south. But despite ...

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February 23, 2017


Hachette Australia





Literary Awards:

BTBA Best Translated Book Award Nominee, Shortlisted (2017)
Griffin Poetry Prize Nominee for International Shortlisted (2017)
PEN Award for Poetry in Translation Nominee for Donald Nicholson-Smith (2017)

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