Top photo by Darren Bonello. 2nd photo by Boris Mitkov
LONDON (October 8th 2014) – Somali-born author and artist, Diriye Osman, has become the first African writer to win the UK’s prestigious Polari First Book Prize.
The award is presented annually to the best first book which explores the LGBT experience and Osman’s critically-acclaimed short story collection, Fairytales For Lost Children (Team Angelica Press), was announced the winner at a ceremony held at The Royal Festival Hall.
‘It’s an absolute privilege to receive this award,’ says Osman. ‘Publishing a book is like sending a message in a bottle and praying that it reaches the right person. Writing Fairytales For Lost Children was a life-changing experience because it charts the lives of my generation – young, LGBT Somalis – a community that has remained silent for too long for fear of repudiation and violence. At a time when LGBT youth of African descent are raising their voices against homophobic attitudes and toxic morality-mongering, I’m proud to add my voice to this chorus of dissent. I dedicate this award to every lost child who has felt marginalized or marooned from the wider culture. I dedicate this award to the pursuit of freedom.’
Earlier this year, Osman wrote a widely circulated essay for The Huffington Post discussing the challenges of writing Fairytales For Lost Children and coming out to his strict Muslim family. The essay, which you can access here, ends on the defiant and proud note: ‘It’s a beautiful thing to be young, gay and African.’
Praise for Fairytales For Lost Children
‘The power of these stories is undeniable.’- ROXANE GAY, The Nation
‘East Africa. South London. Queer. Displaced. Mentally ill. My excitement over Osman and his writing comes, in part, out of delight at the impossibility of categorization.’- ELLAH ALLFREY, The Telegraph
‘Osman is a courageous writer but he is also an original one. His language is peppered with Somali words and crafted with all the concision and riches of poetry. At a time when African writing is on the rise, Osman stands above the crowd.’ – BERNARDINE EVARISTO, The Independent