Kgshak Akec on writing Hopeless Kingdom

On finding home

While Hopeless Kingdom is a deeply personal story and draws inspiration from her own real-life experiences, Akec said her book is fiction.

“As the story grew, Akita became less of a mirror image of me and Taresai became less of an image of my mother, and they became their own people. That happened very organically – and I’m glad that it did because it meant that people aren’t relating to just me when they’re reading Hopeless Kingdom, they’re relating to the characters,” she said.

“I started to think about how cool it would be to write a story about us, and let others step into what it’s like to be a minority, and what it’s like to be a first-generation Australian.”

Even though the idea for the book was something Akec said was always in the back of her mind, it wasn’t until she returned from a trip to New Zealand in early 2020 – her first trip abroad since migrating here – that she realised Australia truly felt like home.

“That’s what compelled me to write the book,” she said.

“I understood, in every part of my being, that Australia is my home. It was the first time that I cognised it and felt it.

“When I was on my flight back to Australia (from New Zealand), that felt like a homecoming. It was such a massive revelation for me.”

In this moment, Akec decided it was the “right time” to start writing Hopeless Kingdom; the journey home had been the catalyst for beginning her book.

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At first, she imagined it was only going to be a short story, but the more she wrote, the more the story poured out of her. After three months, she completed the first draft.

On reflection, Akec said Australia feels like home largely because of the experiences she has had here. She migrated here at the age of six, spent a huge part of growing up in Australia, and is sentimental about “learning so many things and meeting so many people here”.

Akec considers herself a first-generation Australian, and with a growing family network based here, she feels even more connected to the place.

“My relationship to Australia is because of the people, but also the culture, and it has had such an influence on the person that I am today,” she said.

 

Purchase a copy of Hopeless Kingdom by Kgshak Akec here.