30 August 1968
Islington, London, England
|Alma mater||University of Oxford|
Diran Adebayo FRSL (born 30 August 1968) is a British novelist, cultural critic and academic best known for his stylish, inventive tales of London and the lives of African diasporans. His work has been characterised by its interest in multiple cultural identities, subcultures, and its distinctive, "musical" use of language. His work has won many awards and wide acclaim from critics. His fans include the writer Zadie Smith, who has praised him for his "humanness", arguing that he is one of a few English writers who "trade in both knowledge and feeling". In 2002 The Times Literary Supplement named him as one of the Best Young British Novelists.
Education and career
Born Oludiran Adebayo in London in 1968, to Nigerian parents, Adebayo won a major scholarship when he was 12 to Malvern College, where he boarded as an adolescent, and is an Oxford University Law graduate. Among his friends at Wadham College, Oxford, were the writers Monica Ali and Hari Kunzru, while the Afro-Futurist critic and theorist Kodwo Eshun, whom Adebayo cites in his Acknowledgements to Some Kind of Black, was another university contemporary.
Adebayo's debut novel, Some Kind of Black, centred on the youthful adventures of its protagonist, Dele, was one of the first to articulate a British-born African perspective, and it won him numerous awards, including the Writers' Guild of Great Britain's New Writer of the Year Award, the Author's Club First Novel Award, the 1996 Saga Prize, and a Betty Trask Award. It was also longlisted for the Booker Prize, serialised on British radio and is now a Virago Modern Classic. "It is difficult to discuss the book without talking in terms of its uniqueness – and without resorting to superlatives...a tremendously rich, subtle and nuanced read", said The Scotsman, while The Times called him a "A gloriously capable and confident writer". His follow-up, the fable My Once Upon A Time, set in a near-future London-like western city, fused noir with Yoruba folklore to striking effect, and solidified his reputation as a groundbreaker. The book uses the song "Heaven and Hell" by Chef Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan as a thread running through the novel. Much attention was again given to his wit and to the deft deployment of different registers and styles of language. "Diran Adebayo confirms his promise as a writer of vibrant originality....This is a book that sings: its prose, a giddy mixture of English and patois, Runyonesque flights of descriptive fantasy and the musical cadences of street-slang, is by turns rhapsodic, exhilarating and poignant," said The Telegraph.
In 2000, Vienna University awarded Adebayo the $60,000 Abraham Woursell stipend, a prize for young noteworthy European writers. In 2004 he co-edited New Writing 12, the British Council's annual anthology of British and Commonwealth literature, with Blake Morrison and Jane Rogers. In 2005, Adebayo was the first Guest Director of the Cheltenham Literature Festival and wrote the documentary Out of Africa for BBC Television. In 2009, Adebayo donated the short story "Calculus" to Oxfam's "Ox-Tales" project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. His story was published in the "Air" collection.
Adebayo had worked as Senior News Reporter at The Voice newspaper and as a reporter on BBC Television before his manuscript for Some Kind of Black won the Saga Prize. He was formerly a columnist for the now defunct New Nation newspaper, and is one of the leading commentators on Race in Britain, as well as writing on arts and sports for newspapers such as The Guardian, The Independent and New Statesman magazine.
In 2017, he was one of 20 people to have their portraits taken by Oxford University for permanent display, as part of its 'Diversifying Portraiture' initiative, in recognition of his 'achievements and contributions to the University and to the literary world'.
He lives in London and is the younger brother of the writer, journalist, publisher and broadcaster Dotun Adebayo.
- Some Kind of Black (1997)
- My Once Upon A Time (2001)
- New Writing 12 (co-editor, 2004)
- Stade, George, Karbiener, Karen (2009), Encyclopedia of British Writers, 1800 to the Present, Volume 2. Infobase Publishing, ISBN 1438116896, 9781438116891
- Smith, Zadie. "This is how it feels to me" Archived 4 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine., The Guardian, London, 13 October 2001.
- Childs, Peter, and James Green (2013), Aesthetics and Ethics in Twenty-First Century British Novels: Zadie Smith, Hari Kunzru and Nadeem Aslam, Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 1623564697, 9781623564698.
- "MPs and misdemeanours" Archived 17 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine., The Guardian, London, Saturday, 27 July 2002.
- "Diran Adebayo". British Council. Archived from the original on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
- Cunningham, John (22 September 2001), "Of Wodehouse and Wood Green", The Guardian, archived from the original on 9 May 2014, retrieved 15 October 2011
- About Diran Adebayo Archived 15 June 2008 at Archive.is. Official website. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
- Gallery page Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine., Diran Adebayo website.
- "Diran Adebayo". Royal Literary Fund. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
- Kieran Meeke, "Guilty Pleasures – Diran Adebayo" Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine., Metro, 27 October 2009.
- "Cheltenham Literature Festival, 30 November—17 October 2005" Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine., English PEN.
- Ox-Tales Archived 20 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine., Oxfam.
- "Research project: International Writing Project – Dormant" Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine., University of Southampton.
- "Georgetown Hosts British Author Diran Adebayo" Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine., Georgetown University press release, 2 March 2006.
- List of Fellows Archived 21 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine., Santa Maddalena Foundation.
- John Cunningham, "Of Wodehouse and Wood Green" (interview), The Guardian, 22 September 2001.
- Alison Roberts, "Don't expect failure"[permanent dead link], Evening Standard interview, 11 December 2003.