Imprisoned Asylum Seeker Wins Australia’s Biggest Literary Prize, But Can’t Accept It In Person

Author Behrouz Boochani just won Australia’s biggest literary prize, but couldn’t accept his award in person. He’s an asylum seeker who’s been held in purgatory for years on an Austrailian island prison camp.

By Ari Shapiro
All Things Considered / NPR (2/26/19)

This year, Australia’s most prestigious literary prize went to a man who could not physically be there to accept the award. Behrouz Boochani is an Iranian-Kurd barred from entering Australia. Like more than 1,000 other asylum-seekers, he was turned away at the border, and he’s being held on Manus Island in Papua, New Guinea.

That’s where he wrote his prize-winning book in a series of text messages. It’s called “No Friend But The Mountains.” Boochani’s imprisonment makes him very difficult to reach. But after he won the award, I called Professor Omid Tofighian of The University of Sydney. He translated the book into English, and I asked him to describe the purgatory where the author is being held. …

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