Ali Sheikholeslami, who is studying for a Master's degree at Brunel University in West London, will have his story published in an anthology of winning stories about coming to live in the UK, later this year.
He is among 16 winners of the decibel Penguin prize, backed by Arts Council England, to promote cultural diversity in the arts, and Penguin Books. All the winning work will appear in a collection of short stories entitled Volume 2: Personal Tales of Immigration to Britain.
His successful story, The Gentleman of Reigate is about his arrival in the UK, from Tehran, where he was an international project manager, to study at Brunel.
“As a new writer, I don't know what will happen to work when it's finished, so if it's published, it's a confirmation that I've done a good job,“ he said.
He is currently studying for a Master's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and hopes to graduate this year.
“The Gentleman of Reigate is about the anxieties of an 'alien,'“ he explained.
“I love travelling because I see new things, which is great. But when immigration officers look at my passport, and see that I am from the so-called 'axis of evil,' all smiles disappear,“ he continued.
“At the airport, people look at you as if you are a potential terrorist. The whole atmosphere is so tense. I don' t think that all these security checks are really helpful, because they are not. They are adding to the gap between different cultures, which is a shame.“
Ali is no stranger to literary awards. In 1998, he won the third prize in a national writing competition for final year high school students and he founded the English Literature Society while studying English Language and Literature at the Shahid Beheshti University.
However, he was very pleasantly surprised to learn that his talents have now received international recognition. “I really enjoyed receiving the news, I cherished it,“ he said.