FERENJI, the first book by Helena Mulkerns, is available now, published by Doire Press an award-winning literary publishing house in Galway. FERENJI is a collection of stories set in the world of international workers in developing, conflict and post-conflict areas of the world. Although fiction, inspiration has come from the author’s personal experience and research completed while working in Central America, Africa and Afghanistan. For full press release, please click this link.
In Ferenji, we glimpse the lives of those who work in the field in humanitarian aid, peacekeeping, human rights/refugee issues, or journalism. Some stories are set in an African country where a United World peacekeeping mission maintains a fragile calm following a brutal civil war. Others take place in a live conflict environment where international staff are largely restricted to a Green Zone and where abduction and bombings are daily threats. Stories explore landscapes both personal and geographical as well as the challenges and inspirations encountered – with a little field humour scattered throughout.
The book’s tongue-in-cheek title Ferenji has its historic origins in Persian or Arabic and is still much used from Ethiopia to South East Asia. It basically means “bloody foreigners” and the nuance runs from affectionate to pejorative. Anyone who has worked in the field knows the blessing and dilemma of what it is to be a ferenji.
Publicity for the book’s release is handled by Cormac Kinsella and so far has included a glowing IRISH TIMES review, a HOT PRESS interview, an ARENA interview, and a HOT PRESS book review. ‘Reprisal’, one of the book’s short stories, has been published on the IRISH TIMES.com website. In the “Best Books of 2016” feature, author Nuala O’Connor (“Miss Emily”) cited Ferenji as one of her favourite books. In THE IRISH INDEPENDENT “Writers Favourite Books of 2016” feature, Dermot Bolger also named “Ferenji” as one of his favourites. Sue Leonard in the IRISH EXAMINER has described the book as “a quite wonderful collection.” Elsewhere, Helena has written a column in THE SUNDAY TIMES and several other media features and reviews are forthcoming. See the Ferenji BOOK TRAILER here.
Helena received a bursary from The Arts Council of Ireland to develop the work and will be reading at events and in book shops around Ireland in the new year. For news check back to Helena’s BLOG. Sign up to receive updates, and you can find a list of outlets selling FERENJI here.
“An engaging and highly readable collection … ” – Sarah Gilmartin, The Irish Times
“Finely written and astutely observed … ” – Dermot Bolger
“Very moving stories … ” – Seán Rocks, ARENA.
“An international voice that resonates with a deep empathy …” – Emer Martin
“Mulkerns is a skilled writer …” Olaf Tyaransen, Hot Press
“Powerful and evocative … ” – Martin Doyle, Irish Times
“Daring, complex, original …” – Eamonn Wall
Beautifully written and topical … – Nuala O’Connor
“A quite wonderful collection of linked stories …” Sue Leonard, Irish Examiner