Detained asylum seeker wins Australia’s richest literary prize

It has just been announced that from Manus Island, Iranian-born refugee Behrouz Boochani has won both the non-fiction prize and the prize for literature at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for his book, ‘No Friend but the Mountains‘.

The Guardian’s full report is here.

Will this lead to any change in the major parties’ adherence to offshore processing and mandatory detention?? That was the purpose of work, its author has stressed:

“I certainly did not write this book just to win an award. My main aim has always been for the people in Australia and around the world to understand deeply 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.”

Behrouz Boochani

His translator, Omid Tofighian, has underlines the significance of this achievement – not from a literary perspective but as an important piece of communication on the plight of the world’s displaced people and the policies Australia has implemented that has proven to inflict more pain and hardship on victims of oppression.

“You can’t underestimate the impact that [this win] will have on Australian politics and Australian refugee politics – not only in Australia [but for] displaced and exiled people all over the world. This is one of the most vicious forms of neocolonial oppression that is taking over the world at the moment – and to address this book in this way and to recognise it and draw attention to the narrative it is presenting will have repercussions for many generations to come.”

Omid Tofighian

To acknowledge this unprecedented achievement which encompasses journalism, literature and advocacy, you can follow the process this site has set up to use your own writing skills to:

  1. Email Empathy ( by going to our Read page OR reading “No Friend but the Mountains” and then the Write and Send pages) and/or
  2. Email Accuracy

If one man can compose literature via multiple text messages  in Farsi sent one-at-a-time and then translated into English, the least any of us we can do is email the government responsible for his ongoing suffering and that of hundreds of other innocent human beings.

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