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Asylum-seeker wins Oz literary prize for book he wrote via texts

By February 3, 2019No Comments

Source : Times of India

A Kurdish Iranian writer who sought asylum in Australia six years ago, only to be thrown into a “processing camp” in Papua New Guinea’s remote Manus Island, has won the country’s richest literary prize, according to a report in the Guardian.

On Thursday night, Behrouz Boochani’s debut book “No Friend but the Mountains” won the $25,000 non-fiction prize at the Victorian premier’s literary awards, as well as the $100,000 Victorian prize for literature.

Boochani couldn’t be there to pick up the awards, just as he had missed his book’s launch in August last year. The Australian government continues to deny him entry into the mainland.

The book, described by the Guardian as “a fusion of styles, part creative writing, part strategic resistance,” tells about the difficult camp life on Manus Island. It took almost five years to write because Boochani typed it on his phone, one text message at a time.

“The main reason I wrote this book on my phone, and sent it out bit by bit, was really that I didn’t feel safe with the guards and authorities,” Boochani told Guardian Australia. His phone was confiscated twice in the period. “So imagine if I had written this book on paper. I would have definitely lost it.”

At first, he tried to tell his story through articles, but soon realised that “the journalism language doesn’t have the capacity to describe this life, and the suffering and how the system is working here.”

On learning that his book had won two prestigious prizes, Boochani told the Guardian that he had a “paradoxical feeling”. He hopes that his book will make people in Australia and other countries aware of the conditions in the processing camps and how “this system has tortured innocent people on Manus and Nauru in a systematic way for almost six years. I hope this award will bring more attention to our situation, and create change, and end this barbaric policy.”

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