Writer spurns Mail award over asylum

The Refugee Council has said that novelist Hari Kunzru's refusal last week to accept a literary prize sponsored by the Mail on Sunday because of its hostility to asylum seekers could mark a turning point in how refugee issues are represented in the media.

Kunzru, one of Britain's most promising novelists, turned down the John Llewellyn Rhys award and asked that the £5,000 prize be donated to the Refugee Council.

He won the award for his debut novel, The Impressionist, which explores themes of race and identity.

In a statement read out at the ceremony, Kunzru explained why he couldn't accept the prize: "As the child of an immigrant, I am only too aware of the poisonous effect of the Mail's editorial line. The atmosphere of prejudice it fosters translates into violence. I have no wish to profit from it."

Imran Hussain, advocacy manager for the Refugee Council, said: "We welcome his recognition of the effect that the misrepresentation of asylum seekers is having on all sectors of our society".

See News in Focus, p12.

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