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Stories of the Stranger: The world’s stories remind us of the value of compassion

June 14, 2014:

In the preface to this poignant new book, former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown relates his childhood story of how, as the son of a Christian minister, he was encouraged to welcome strangers into the family home and how he “once invited a man in for a cup of tea… he turned out to be the most notorious local burglar.”

These days, it is common to hear mistrustful talk about strangers - people are often afraid. Climate change and violent conflict are driving increasing numbers from their homes. Stripped of almost everything, these refugees become dependent on the generosity of others.

Yet all faiths and traditions, from across the global, have stories of being the stranger in their history, stories of being the people whose survival relied upon such charity. This touching new collection brings these ancient narratives to life for a contemporary audience, as the newest face of a story as old as story-telling itself. In doing so, it is a powerful reminder to look beyond fear and mistrust to recognize the compassion we owe our fellow humans. And that, as Gordon Brown says, “More often than not, our world can be enriched by strangers – even if we always have to be careful when the local burglar calls!”

‘Stories of the Stranger’ is a remarkable anthology that draws together 20 short stories from a vibrant range of story-telling traditions; including: African, Indian, Buddhist, Christian, Turkish, Korean. These have been revitalized by 12 exciting contemporary writers, including; Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister; established journalist and author Victoria Finlay; Benaifer Bhandari, a Zoroastrian storyteller and poet; Penguin novelist, Dr. Vayu Naidu; young novelist, Emma Geen, whose debut will be published by Bloomsbury next year; and Sef Townsend, an oral storyteller who works with refugees. Whether poignant, grave, funny or heart-warming, each tells of an encounter with the unknown; highlighting of the dire consequences of uncharitable attitudes and the potential riches that flow from generosity.

A lesson for our time

The important lesson behind this entertaining read has never been more relevant. As Gordon Brown says in his foreword, how "we may be more likely to find something profound in the poor exile than the all-powerful seeming priest. [This book] is an effective and subtle way to show how strangers could be neighbours and how we could all live by the golden rule common to all religions."

Stories of the Stranger Collected by Martin Palmer & Katriana Hazell
Illustrations by Sylvia Woodcock-Clarke
Published 2014 by Bene Factum Publishing Ltd, London
ISBN: 978-1-909657-44-1

Copies can be bought direct from Bene Factum Publishing

The book is also available through

For further information please contact Katriana Hazell, co-editor, via:


Sample chapters from Stories of the Stranger

Downloadable pdf versions of three stories from the book

The End of the World

That’s Just My Laundry

Even Kings Know The Fear of Death

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