A refugee who’s currently held in a detention camp by Australia on an island in the Pacific has recently been awarded the country’s richest literary prize award. Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian Kurd and the author of No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison, completed his book via text messages. The prizes, which include the Victorian Prize for Literature and the Non-Fiction Prize, are set to make Boochani richer by AUD $ 125,000. Since he is detained, Boochani couldn’t attend the event which was held on January 31.
Boochani, who is also a journalist, was reportedly detained by Australia for attempting to enter the country without a valid visa. Since 2013, he is locked up on the island of Manus. According to CNN, he is among the 600 refugees who are still in camps on that island, though Australia closed its ‘regional processing centre' in that region in 2017. Boochani’s publisher Picador Australia received his transcript through text messages.
It seems ironic that the country that locked him up is also the one which awarded him for his writing. Speaking to BBC, Boochani said it was ‘a paradoxical feeling.’ "In some ways, I am very happy because we are able to get attention to this plight and you know many people have become aware of this situation, which is great... But on the other side, I feel that I don't have the right to have a celebration - because I have many friends here who are suffering in this place.”