The Burden of Exile

By (author): Aaron Berhane

Foreword by: Brendan de Caires

FINALIST FOR THE 2024 EVERGREEN AWARD

In the strict dictatorship of Eritrea, a young reporter co-founds the first independent newspaper, publishes stories that anger the president, and then has to escape to save his life and his loved ones.

An idealistic journalist with a young family starts the first independent newspaper in the notorious police state of Eritrea ? one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. When the paper is shut down, he flees arrest and begins a dangerous journey to freedom, first across a desert, at night, into Sudan, pursued by Eritrean secret police, then into secret safe houses in Kenya. With the help of the United Nations, he finds sanctuary in Canada ? a place he knows nothing about. Meanwhile, his wife and young children are stuck back home, in constant danger of reprisal.

Berhane?s story is one of bravery amid complicated international geopolitics, of spies, guns, and betrayal, and ? ultimately ? of triumph and the piecing together of family in a cold new country.

AUTHOR

Aaron Berhane

Aaron Berhane was the founder and editor-in-chief of the largest independent newspaper in the violent dictatorship of Eritrea. When the government ordered a crackdown on journalists, Aaron saw a dozen of his friends and colleagues arrested and imprisoned without legal recourse or medical aid. All are still in prison or dead. He was able to escape across the border into Sudan under a hail of bullets from border guards and eventually arrived in Canada. Aaron founded Meftih, a newspaper for the Eritrean community in Canada, campaigned for his fellow journalists who were still imprisoned in Eritrea, completed a master’s degree at Ryerson University, became a professor at George Brown College, and was leader of the Writers-in-Exile Committee of PEN Canada. On May 1, 2021, Aaron suddenly, tragically passed away from covid-19 at the age of fifty-one, leaving behind his wife and three children.


AUTHOR

Brendan de Caires

Aaron Berhane (1969–2021) was an Eritrean Canadian journalist. Co-founder and former editor-in-chief of Eritrea’s now banned largest independent newspaper, Setit, he escaped arrest in 2001 by fleeing to Sudan, then Kenya, and subsequently settled in Canada.

Reviews

The memoir is imbued with a resilient positivity that readers will connect with. Written in crisp and evocative language, this is an urgent story, especially as journalistic freedoms continue to be attacked.
– Booklist

Awards

  • Evergreen Award 2024, Short-listed
  • Excerpts & Samples ×
    FINALIST FOR THE 2024 EVERGREEN AWARD

    In the strict dictatorship of Eritrea, a young reporter co-founds the first independent newspaper, publishes stories that anger the president, and then has to escape to save his life and his loved ones.


    An idealistic journalist with a young family starts the first independent newspaper in the notorious police state of Eritrea ? one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. When the paper is shut down, he flees arrest and begins a dangerous journey to freedom, first across a desert, at night, into Sudan, pursued by Eritrean secret police, then into secret safe houses in Kenya. With the help of the United Nations, he finds sanctuary in Canada ? a place he knows nothing about. Meanwhile, his wife and young children are stuck back home, in constant danger of reprisal.

    Berhane?s story is one of bravery amid complicated international geopolitics, of spies, guns, and betrayal, and ? ultimately ? of triumph and the piecing together of family in a cold new country.

    Reader Reviews

    Details

    Dimensions:

    288 Pages
    8.5in * 5.5in * 1in
    340gr

    Published:

    October 11, 2022

    City of Publication:

    Toronto

    Country of Publication:

    CA

    Publisher:

    Dundurn Press

    ISBN:

    9781459748545

    Featured In:

    All Books

    Language:

    eng

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