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Safe Haven

Shankari Chandran

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Ultimo Press
01 May 2024
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‘A powerful, well-crafted story’ –Sydney Morning Herald

‘a warm and generous read.’ –The Guardian

The new novel from the Miles Franklin award-winning author of Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens.

It was a beautiful evening. The wind gathered speed, lifting the frangipanis from the grove behind him, pink and yellow petals defying gravity. Beyond the trees, hidden by the foliage and rows of towering palm trees, the detention centre slept fitfully in the heavy summer heat. The palms blocked the ocean gust that now swirled around him, filling his lungs with the taste of temple flowers and salt. It reminded him of home. He took a deep breath, stepped off the escarpment and felt the red sand rush up towards him.

Arriving in Australia seeking asylum, Fina dedicates herself to aiding the refugees who are held in Port Camden, a remote island outpost. Over time she settles into a life within a community of like-minded people, finding a new family, far from her original home. After she speaks out for those being detained, Fina becomes the focus of a media storm that leads to her arrest, and the threat of deportation.

When a security officer dies under suspicious circumstances, Lucky, a special investigator, arrives to uncover the truth. The mystery is tied to Fina’s fate—and the secrets she reveals will divide the town and the nation.

Safe Haven is about displacement and seeking refuge—but ultimately it is a story about finding home—and the lengths you’ll go to find safety and love.


‘Chandran's writing is evocative and studded with beautiful imagery’ –Books + Publishing

‘Anyone who read Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens will already know that Miles Franklin winner Shankari Chandran is an expert at sketching communities of people whose dependency on one another is matched by their care for each other. Chandran's new novel, Safe Haven, has it all: a group of refugees only too aware of the fragility of their position; bonds of love and trust; a mysterious death; and similarly beautiful storytelling to her prize-winning book.’ –Qantas Magazine


‘Deftly traversing time, culture and continent to weave a tale of both home and unbelonging, this is truly a novel not to be missed.’ –Maxine Beneba Clarke, author of Foreign Soil and The Hate Race

‘Chandran is an excellent storyteller.’ –The Weekend Australian

‘This is an engaging story that feels both urgent and necessary. It is also a terrific read.’ –The Daily Telegraph

‘this story burns with anger and sings with optimism, sprinkled through with moments of levity and humour.’ –The Canberra Times

‘An engrossing, urgent, warm, wise and utterly, utterly beautiful novel.’ –Emily Maguire, author of An Isolated Incident and Love Objects

‘This is a book that requires concentration and full immersion – but it will reward the reader for that investment.’ –The Guardian

‘a powerful, compassionate novel about friendship, family, community-building, and the racism faced by members of diasporic communities in this country.’ - The AU Review

Imprint:   Ultimo Press
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
ISBN:   9781761151279
ISBN 10:   1761151274
Pages:   320
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Shankari Chandran was raised in Canberra, Australia. She spent a decade in London, working as a lawyer in the social justice field. She eventually returned home to Australia, where she now lives with her husband and four children. She is the author of Song of the Sun God, The Barrier and Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens, which won the 2023 Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Reviews for Safe Haven

‘A powerful, well-crafted story which exposes the truth about immigration detention and, like Chai Time, a reminder of the brutal civil war in Sri Lanka that forced so many to flee.’ * Sydney Morning Herald *

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