Postcolonial writers make worlds

Featured here are some of the most exciting writers working in Britain today. Their work ranges from poetry to plays, novels and short stories; from historical epics to intimate memoirs; and from stories that explore very local experiences to those whose scope is global.

These writers give us dynamic new ways of thinking about Britain and British identity. They ask us to revisit our assumptions about how we as readers relate to the wider world and its networks, and encourage us to develop new forms of national and global awareness. Their writing speaks directly to the pressing issues of our time, such as race, migration, inequality and war.

Despite the vitality and importance of this work, writing by Black and Asian British authors has been overlooked in many discussions about contemporary British literature, underrepresented in school and university course lists, and marginalised even within the publishing industry. Fortunately, this is starting to change. Conversations about Black and Asian under-representation are increasingly becoming part of our public awareness, new A-level teaching resources have been developed, and the path-breaking Cambridge History of Black and Asian British Writing will be published in 2018. Some of the new attention being paid to this writing is featured on this website.

The word ‘postcolonial’ is usually used to refer to Black and Asian British writing, as well as to literature in English from around the world. This has also been called Commonwealth writing. Oddly enough, white British writers are rarely, if ever, called postcolonial, even though they are writing after the time of colonisation. ‘Postcolonial’ is a term that continues to provoke debate and controversy among readers and writers. Despite this controversy, we use the word postcolonial because it highlights some of the key tensions in this literature. We believe that all contemporary writing in Britain can be thought of as postcolonial.


The writers

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Selma Dabbagh

Selma Dabbagh (1970– ) is a British Palestinian writer currently based in London, but whose fiction is mainly – though not always – set in the contemporary Middle East. Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 22, 2017
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Bernardine Evaristo

Born in London, Bernardine Evaristo (1959– ) studied at Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama and went on to co-found the Theatre of Black Women in 1982. Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 21, 2017
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Aminatta Forna

Born in Scotland in 1964, the acclaimed novelist Aminatta Forna moved to Sierra Leone with her Scottish mother and Sierra Leonean father when she was six months old. Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 20, 2017
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Xiaolu Guo

Xiaolu Guo (1973– ) is a British-Chinese novelist, filmmaker and essayist. Guo’s first English language novel, A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, was published in 2007. Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 19, 2017
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Abdulrazak Gurnah

Born in Zanzibar, Tanzania in 1948, Abdulrazak Gurnah is a novelist and academic. He moved to the UK in 1968, in part to escape violence against Zanzibari Arabs... Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 19, 2017
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Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro left Nagasaki at age five when his family moved to Surrey. Born in 1954, he first visited Japan again over three decades later, and currently lives in London. Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 19, 2017
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Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson was born in 1952 in Chapelton, a small rural town in Jamaica. He moved to London at the age of 11 to join his mother who had immigrated two years earlier. Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 18, 2017
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Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy was born in London in 1956, and describes herself as ‘a Londoner.’ Her parents were from Jamaica: her father came to England on the Empire Windrush in 1948. Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 18, 2017
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Nadifa Mohamed

Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargeisa, Somaliland, in 1981 and moved to London in 1986 – a move that was initially intended as temporary but became permanent... Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 17, 2017
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Daljit Nagra

Born in London to Sikh Punjabi immigrants, the poet Daljit Nagra (1966– ) draws influence from both his British and Punjabi identities in his award-winning work. Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 16, 2017
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Courttia Newland

Courttia Newland is a novelist and playwright, born in 1973 in London to parents of West Indian heritage. Newland published his first novel, The Scholar, in 1997. Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 15, 2017
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Ben Okri

Ben Okri (1958– ) is a Nigerian-born British novelist and poet. Ben Okri has published eight novels, including the Booker-winner The Famished Road (1991) and Starbook... Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 14, 2017
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Helen Oyeyemi

Born in Nigeria in 1984, Helen Olajumoke Oyeyemi moved with her family at the age of four to London. At 18, she began work her first novel, The Icarus Girl (2005)... Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 13, 2017
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Caryl Phillips

Caryl Phillips is one of the major British writers of his generation. He is, however, known to be resistant to pigeonholing and to all the labels that have tried to circumscribe his art. Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 13, 2017
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Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie was born in 1973 in Pakistan. She grew up in Karachi, studied in the US, and now lives in London. Her first novel In the City by the Sea was published in 1998. Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 12, 2017
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Warsan Shire

Warsan Shire is a poet born to Somali parents in Kenya in 1988. When she was only a year old her family migrated to England. She has been described as a ‘refugee poet’... Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 11, 2017
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Zadie Smith

Born in London to a Jamaican immigrant mother and English father, Smith (1975– ) has written multi-award winning novels as well as many essays and short stories. Profile and resources
By : admin | Jul 11, 2017

Is there a writer you’d like to see featured on this website? Let us know.