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Behrouz Boochani, asylum seeker on the Isle of Manus, receives the prestigious Victorian Prize Award


January 31, 2019: 23:55:30

Manus Island asylum seeker Behrouz Boochani won the top prize for the Victorian Prize Literature Prize after organizers opened an exception to allow him to enter, although he is not a resident or an Australian citizen.

Key points:

  • Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani has been held in Manus Island since 2013
  • He said he hoped the award would bring more attention to the situation on the island.
  • Mr. Boochani wrote the book by sending it in Whatsapp messages to his translator

His novel – No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from the Manus Prison – gained the country's most valuable literary knowledge, the $ 100,000 Victorian Literature Award, and claimed $ 25,000 for the first place in the No -fiction.

But Boochani was not present at the awards ceremony. The Kurdish-Iranian journalist remains on Manus Island and, from 2013, his entry into Australia has been denied.

Speaking to The Guardian, for which he is a columnist, Boochani described receiving the prize from a country that held him for nearly six years as "a paradoxical feeling."

"My main goal has always been for people in Australia and around the world to deeply understand how this system has systematically tortured innocent people in Manus and Nauru for almost six years," he told Guardian Australia.

"I hope this award will pay more attention to our situation, create changes and end this barbaric policy."

The Australian Center for Human Rights tweeted his congratulations to Boochani calling his novel "an Australian story that as a nation we can not be proud of, but it's a story that can not be ignored."

Typing by cell phone

Boochani wrote his entire book on his cell phone and sent it in parts and pieces over the years to the Omid Tofighian translator via WhatsApp.

Speaking on ABC's The World program on Thursday night, Tofighian said the book "conveys the systematic torture inflicted on refugees in prisons."

"It combines different techniques and different genres," Tofighian said.

"I call it your anti-gender style … essentially re-evaluates and even criticizes the kind of conventions associated with your gender."

Tofighian said the award will give Boochani a greater voice when speaking on behalf of colleagues seeking asylum.

"I think people will take their philosophical approach, political comments and their cultural analysis more seriously," he said.

The regional processing center on Manus Island closed in 2017, but 600 refugees still live on the island.

Other winners of the 2019 literary prize included Elise Valmorbida for her fictional work The Madonna of the Mountains, Kate Lilley for her poem Tilt, and the indigenous writer Kim Scott for Taboo.

Kendall Feaver won the Drama Award with the Almighty Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina won the category of young adults with Catching Teller Crow and Victoria Hannan won an award for her unpublished manuscript, Kokomo.




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First published

January 31, 2019 23:40:13

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