Kate Kellaway, The Observer
“Highly recommended…The English novel needs more Diran Adebayos.”
The Literary Review
Diran Adebayo is an author, academic and cultural critic best known for his inventive, stylish tales of Afro-British lives. His debut novel, the picaresque Some Kind of Black, set among the sounds and slangs of the early nineties, was hailed as breaking new ground for the ‘London novel’, and won him numerous awards, including the Writers Guild of Great Britain’s New Writer of the Year Award, the 1996 Saga Prize, a Betty Trask Award, and The Authors’ Club’s ‘Best First Novel’ award. It was also long listed for the Booker Prize, and is now a Virago Modern Classic. His second novel, the Afrofuturistic ‘neo-noir fairy tale’ My Once Upon a Time was also widely praised and solidified his reputation as a ground-breaker. Diran co-edited ‘New Writing 12‘, the British Council’s annual anthology of British and Commonwealth literature, and he has also written stories and scripts for television and radio, including the 2005 documentary ‘Out of Africa’ for BBC2, and for anthologies such as ‘OxTales’. As a critic, he’s written for the daily or sunday edition of every national newspaper, bar ‘The Sun’, and has appeared as a guest on shows such as ‘Newsnight’, ‘The Culture Show’, ‘This Week’ and the ‘Today’ programme, most recently on the 2020 BBC TV documentary, ‘the Trouble with Naipaul’ and BBC TV series, ‘The Novel’, discussing everything from literature and politics to popular culture, including sports – the centrepiece of his memoiristic work-in-progress, ‘“Openers”’.
Diran has toured and performed extensively, both domestically and internationally, from the Oxford Union to gatherings such as the Melbourne, Galle, Edinburgh and Hay-On-Wye Literary Festivals to readings and workshops at California State Prison, Sacramento (formerly Folsom). He has been a judge of Literary awards such as the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize and a recipient of an International Arts Council Fellowship. In 2005 he was Guest Director of the Cheltenham Literary Festival and Writer-in-Residence at the British Museum and, in 2006, the British Council Writer-in-Residence at Georgetown University, USA. . 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’.
Born in London, Diran won a Major Scholarship to Malvern College, where he was first published with a poem in an Independent Schools anthology, before reading Law at Oxford University, where he co-edited the Oxford Union magazine, Debate, and was the Arts Editor and writer of the ‘John Evelyn’ gossip column for Cherwell, the University newspaper. After university, Diran became Senior News Reporter at ‘The Voice’ newspaper, where he wrote an exclusive interview with the first openly gay British footballer Justin Fashanu, before working in television for the B.B.C. and L.W.T. as a Reporter, Senior Researcher or Assistant Producer on series such as ‘Reportage’, ‘The Late Show’, ‘The London Programme’ and ‘Devil’s Advocate’, presented by Darcus Howe.
Diran is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a fan of Tottenham Hotspur football club and the West Indies cricket team. He is currently a lecturer in Creative Writing at Kingston University and is from a wider arts family. His oldest brother Yinka is a children’s author, his brother Dotun is a writer, publisher and broadcaster, his sister-in-law Carroll Thompson is a singer and his cousin Mojisola is a playwright and academic.