Great Writers Inspire at Home workshops
The Great Writers Inspire at Home 2017 workshops brought together a number of contemporary British writers to discuss how literature in different genres shapes readers’ perceptions of the contemporary world, and their identities within it.
The workshops featured readings by the author, an interview or discussion, and a time of Q&A in which audience members were encouraged to talk about their responses to the work of the author in question.
These discussions were recorded and edited into the video podcasts featured on this website. The programme and links to the recording can be found below.
The project leaders Elleke Boehmer and Erica Lombard introduce the concept of the series, talk about reading, and participating readers respond to extracts from the books they have engaged with in their reading groups.
In conversation with Elleke Boehmer, Kamila Shamsie reads from her most recent novel, A God in Every Stone (2014). Mostly set in London and Peshawar in the first decades of the twentieth century, the novel explores ‘the communality [and] contradictions … of empire’ (Tabish Khair, Financial Times).
Bernardine Evaristo is in conversation with Zoe Norridge and Marsha Hutchinson about her verse novel, The Emperor’s Babe (2001), which tells the story of a black girl growing up in Roman London in 211 AD.
In dialogue with Rachael Gilmour, Daljit Nagra reads from and speaks about his celebrated debut collection, Look We Have Coming to Dover! (2007). The poems are based on his experiences as the son of Punjabi parents who came from India to Britain in the 1950s.
Local Oxford performance poet D-Empress Dianne Regisford presents a performance installation piece entitled ‘Hersto-rhetoric? Na so today!!!’. The performance installation, which incorporates a series of seven sculptures, invites critical explorations of the notion of ‘la femme libre’ (the liberated woman) from an African feminist perspective. The works are inspired by what D-Empress describes as a ten-year initiation into the teachings and practice of the ancient West African Mandinka badjenne tradition.
Nadifa Mohamed is in dialogue with ‘Africa in Words’ editor Kate Wallis about her debut novel, Black Mamba Boy (2010), based on her father’s travels across the Horn of Africa before his eventual arrival in Britain.
Windham-Campbell-winning author Aminatta Forna talks about her Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winning novel, The Memory of Love (2010), set in post-war Sierra Leone, with Ankhi Mukherjee and the audience.
Editors Susheila Nasta and Mark Stein are in conversation with contributors Gail Low, Henghameh Saroukhani and Florian Stadtler about their forthcoming Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing. This is the very first academic collection to cover nearly 300 years of Black and Asian British literature. From their perspectives as critics, they address the questions of writing, reading and identity in Britain today.
M. NourbeSe Philip is a poet, novelist and lawyer, born in Tobago but now based in Canada. Though Philip does not have direct ties to Britain, her concerns with language, the past, and the question of how we belong, links her to many of the other writers who appear in the series. Philip reads from her work and describes her poetic formation. Marina Warner, Matthew Reynolds and Elleke Boehmer offer responses to her work.
In a special Great Writers Inspire at Home summer event, writers Selma Dabbagh and Courttia Newland give readings of their work. They also engage in discussion about writing and community.