Iranian detained on Manus Island wins Australian biography prize
August 12 2019 10:40 AM
Behrouz Boochani
Behrouz Boochani

Dpa/Canberra

Kurdish-Iranian writer and refugee Behrouz Boochani, who has been held in Australian migration detention on Manus Island since 2013, has won Australia's National Biography Award for his memoir ‘No Friend But the Mountains.’  

Boochani won 25,000 dollars (17,000 US dollars) with the award, which is Australia's richest prize for biographical writing, organizers at the State Library of New South Wales said Monday in a statement.

Boochani has already won several other prizes this year, including the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award, and non-fiction book of the year at the Australian Book Industry awards.

In his memoir, Boochani details his journey after fleeing Iran due to persecution, arriving from Indonesia to Australia's Christmas Island on a boat, and being imprisoned by the Australian government on Manus - where he has been held for more than six years - with some shocking details of cruelty, humiliation and constant surveillance.

Boochani wrote his the book one text message at a time from Manus. It was translated from Farsi into English by a friend.

The judges Monday praised the book for ‘its poetic and epic writing,’ calling it ‘profoundly important, an astonishing act of witness and testament to the lifesaving power of writing as resistance.’  Boochani, unable to accept the award in person, thanked the organizers and his supporters via WhatsApp from Manus Island, which is part of Papua New Guinea.

‘I think history will judge this generation and will judge all of us in this hard and dark period of Australian history,’ he said.



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