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About Wasafiri

Wasafiri encourages readers and writers to travel the world via the word. For over three decades, we have created a dynamic platform for mapping new landscapes in contemporary international writing featuring a diverse range of voices from across the UK and beyond. Committed to profiling the ‘best of tomorrow’s writers today’ we simultaneously celebrate those who have become established literary voices, offering a creative space for dialogue and debate.

Wasafiri has become the UK’s leading magazine for international contemporary writing. Launched in 1984, it is now renowned for publishing some of the world’s most distinguished writers including Chinua Achebe, Kamau Brathwaite, Anita and Kiran Desai, Sam Selvon, Nadine Gordimer, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Michael Ondaatje, Vikram Seth, Nayantara Sahgal, Gillian Slovo and Ben Okri amongst many others.

Everyone of us is born into a place in the world, in a culture, and it is from the standpoint of that culture that we contribute to the world.
Earl Lovelace, Wasafiri

Its name stems from the Kiswahili word for ‘travellers’ which reflects the magazine’s longstanding engagement with cultural travelling, diverse histories and its continuing commitment to extending the established boundaries of literary culture. Brainchild of Founding Editor, Susheila Nasta, the first issue was launched at the University of Kent in 1984.

Wasafiri launch in 1984

One of its inaugural aims was to provide much needed literary and critical coverage of writers from African, Caribbean, Asian and Black British backgrounds who often struggled to get adequate attention in the mainstream press. The magazine played a pioneering role in reviewing the first novels and early poetry of writers who are now well-known, challenging the predominant assumption that their work would only be of ‘minority interest’.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o in conversation with Aminatta Forna

Wasafiri remains wedded to the unbounded vision of writing across worlds with which it began. Having pioneered a shift in the literary, cultural and critical landscape, the magazine draws widely across modern culture and the arts, publishing a lively and informed mix of fiction, poetry, interviews, essays and reviews. In today’s increasingly divided world, the magazine’s original mission to provoke cross-cultural dialogue and provide a space for the publication of distinctive new work from across the globe is ever more vital. Continuing to introduce readers to the best in international writing and committed to promoting the freshest talents, it opens spaces for reading and writing across borders, imagining diverse possibilities for belonging.

Listen on SoundCloud to Susheila Nasta speak about the history of Wasafiri at Queen Mary University of London’s ‘Show and Tell’. 

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