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Hari Kunzru turns down literary prize

Shyam Bhatia in London | November 21, 2003 20:17 IST

Best selling author Hari Kunzru has turned down the UK's most prestigious literary prize for young authors because it is sponsored by the right wing Mail on Sunday newspaper that he despises.

Kunzru, who is attending a family wedding in New Delhi, was not present at the awards ceremony for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, which has previously been awarded to such writers as Nobel Laureate V S Naipaul, Angela Carter, David Hare and Andrew Motion.

Kunzru's agent, Jonny Geller, created a sensation when he read out the author's message, saying: "The Mail on Sunday has consistently pursued an editorial policy of vilifying and demonising refugees and asylum seekers, and throughout their political and social coverage there is a pervasive atmosphere of hostility towards black and Asian people."

The message from Kunzru, who is the son of an Indian doctor and an English mother, continued, "As the only 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 and I have no wish to profit from it."

Mail on Sunday editor Peter Wright commented, "I would be interested to hear from Hari Kunzru precisely which Mail on Sunday article he finds so offensive.

"We would very much like to donate his prize as requested to the Refugee Council, and also ask him to write us an article outlining what he thinks the government should be doing on the subject of refugees and asylum."


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