Meet Zeki Togan, a small-time crim in big-time trouble. A quintessential Australian larrikin – whose biggest problem is that he isn’t actually Australian. 19 year old Zeki was born in the Old Country but has been in Australia since he was six months old and considers himself as Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi as the next bloke. But due to a mix-up at the naturalisation ceremony (Zeki was in the pub when the rest of his family were getting their certificates and sprigs of wattle) and some unfortunate brushes with the law, Zeki finds himself awaiting deportation from Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre. So Zeki finds himself locked up with the other crims, asylum seekers, sex slaves, illegal workers and visa overstayers. He loves Marlena, She Who Loves, Honours and Obeys Most a the Time Anyway, but he’s having a hell of a time proving it from the wrong side of a double fence. His new friends the ‘asylums’ aren’t doing so well either. Hamid loves Angel but she needs more than love. April thinks she loves Azad, but Azad thinks he loves April’s daughter Marley. Thomas loves any place but where he is. Everyone loves freedom. Not everyone gets it. Everyone wants to survive. Not everyone will.
Short-listed for the Australian Literary Society Gold Medal 2007
‘An Australian Catch-22’ The Sydney Morning Herald
‘Making The Infernal Optimist a comedy was a wonderful idea, because it allows Jaivin to get in the human side of the refugee equation through the back door. It’s a sneaky ploy, and it works because the realities of life in detention are presented in an almost documentary style, without being preachy in the least…’ The Age
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