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Diran Adebayo
Author of Some Kind of Black

Diran Adebayo is a Nigerian writer, cultural critic and broadcaster who is best known for his explicit depictions of modern London life. He lives in London and is the younger brother of the writer, journalist, publisher and broadcaster Dotun Adebayo.

Early Life
Adebayo was born in London in 1968 to Nigerian parents. His father was a journalist and academic who raised Diran and his five brothers under very strict house rules. With his early activities confined to school, books from Sainsbury's and the library, Adebayo became a lover of reading. His early influences were PG WodehouseIan Fleming (creator of the James Bond series and the beloved children’s book Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang) and books on cricket. He won a scholarship to attend Malvern College, one of the UK's best-known private boarding schools. There, he read Samuel BeckettJean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus, as well as a variety of other writers. He was particularly enthralled by JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. He later won a place at the University of Oxford where he read law.


Further Description

Adebayo writes predominantly about being black, young and male in the urban environment of London. His debut novel, Some Kind of Black (1996), was one of the first to tell of life in London from a Black British perspective. The book, set in Britain, is centred on a young Nigerian student and his attempt to reconcile his experiences at the University of Oxford, his Nigerian roots and his exploits in urban London. The novel 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, a Betty Trask Award, and the 1996 Saga Prize, which had been set up by the actress and novelist Marsha Hunt specifically for first-time black British writers. It was also longlisted for the Booker Prize, serialised on British radio and is now a Virago Modern Classic.

His second novel, My Once Upon a Time (2000), was experimental in structure and proved successful in fusing film noir and fairy tales with Yoruba mythology.

Adebayo worked as a news reporter at The Voice newspaper and as a reporter for the BBC before becoming a full-time writer. He was formerly a columnist for the New Nation newspaper and is a regular presence in the British press, writing for outlets such as the Guardian, the Independent and the New Statesman magazine. In 2003, the Evening Standard named him one of London's 100 most influential people.

In 2004, he co-edited New Writing 12the British Council's annual anthology of British and Commonwealth literature, with Blake Morrison and Jane Rogers. He also contributed to Underworlds: The Hidden City (2005), the Book Trust London Short Story Competition’s anthology. In 2005, he wrote the documentary Out of Africa for BBC Television. He is also a respected radio and TV commentator.

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 is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the National Council of Arts Council, England. He was a writer-in-residence for the charity First Story

Watch Adebayo participate in a debate with journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy, royal historian Kate Williams and novelist Owen Jones:


  1. Diran Adebayo’s official website
  2. Guardian Books
  3. British Council website
  4. Journal Diran
  5. Wikipedia

Picture sources: Diran Adebayo’s official website and Southbank Centre