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'It's not behind us. It's not in the past.'
On 7 June 2020, the city of Bristol burst into the international spotlight in a single moment of visual poetry, as protestors armed with ropes and determination did in a matter of minutes what the city had long failed to manage:
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'Soft Liquid Rigour': Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments
It is hard to review a book of such gravitas and importance; a text that refuses the boundaries we were meant to exist within. How to honour the soft liquid rigour, the sharp vast tenderness, of a writer like Saidiya Hartman?
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Marching with Mandela's Grandchildren
‘BLM organisers call off London event [13th June] to avoid clashes with far right’, the Guardian headline reads on the very evening I’m writing this…
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Smokers by Janet Olearski
The Onorevole Gaetano Costa, the highest of high-court judges, domiciled in the city of Palermo, was a heavy smoker. His wife Rita did what she could to discourage the habit.
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Nigerian Literature: Four Deaths and an Elegy
The last twelve months have been a terrible time for Nigerian literature. First, in March 2019, came the death of Pius Adesanmi in the Ethiopian Airways crash.
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'I often think in threes': Namwali Serpell on the 'Great Zambian Novel'
High praise – ‘Dickensian’, ‘A worthy heir to Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude’ – and a prize considered a literary rite of passage – the Caine Prize for African Writing, or ‘Africa’s Booker’ – preceded the arrival of Zambian writer Namwali Serpell’s doorstopper debut…
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In Memoriam: Benita Parry
In a series of brilliant essays written in the 1980s and 1990s, subsequently re-published as Postcolonial Studies. A Materialist Critique (2004), Benita Parry invigorated literary-theoretical debates about the cultures of (neo-)colonialism with her sophisticated Marxist analysis.
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Writing Britain Now: Shahnaz Ahsan
My grandfather, or Nana Bhai as we used to call him, always took great pains to make it clear that he was asked to come to Britain in the late 1950s. Post-war Britain needed the workforce – in factories and mills across the country – and it called upon the former colonies for help.
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The Perfect Handspring by Muthoni wa Gichuru
I was in standard six, twelve years old, as thin as an acacia sapling and just as rough. I joined the queue of bloomer-clad girls and waited my turn. The test for making it to our school’s Physical Education team would be a perfect handspring:
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Wasafiri Wonders: Khairani Barokka
'I always wish there were more translations of poetry from Indonesian languages, especially in languages other than Indonesian, including from works that aren’t in book form to begin with.
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After the Apocalypse
If you've ever read Emily St John Mandel's novel Station Eleven, you may have spent a lot of time recently thinking about Emily St John Mandel's novel Station Eleven. Namely, could it be, is it possible—will it get that bad? If the book is new to you, a brief plot summary from the back cover:
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'Too much talking. We’ve got work to do'
Ellah P Wakatama OBE is Editor at Large, Canongate Books Ltd.; Senior Research Fellow at Manchester University (Centre for New Writing) and Chair of the AKO Caine Prize for African Writing.
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'A Towering Figure': Tribute to Kamau Brathwaite (1930-2020)
Kamau Brathwaite, who passed away on February 4th 2020, is one of the Caribbean’s most influential and original poetic voices.
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A Losing School Team by David McVey
Our school Debating Society had a lot going for it. For a start, it was a handy refuge during wet weather; once a week we had access to the Lecture Theatre in the warm, dry heart of the school which was otherwise out of bounds during the lunch break.
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Writing Britain Now: Jessica Mookherjee
Jessica Mookherjee, highly commended in the 2017 Forward Prizes, published her second collection of poems, Tigress, with Nine Arches Press late last year.
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Season's Readings: 35 Years of Wasafiri, 35 Literary Works
To mark the milestone of Wasafiri’s 100th issue, we invited Alastair Niven to cast an eye over the literary output of the past three and a half decades and pick thirty-five outstanding books from the last thirty-five years.  … No one could refuse an invitation to pick their favourite books…
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Writing Britain Now: The Books of Sheffield and Newcastle
Comma Press’s ‘Reading the City’ series has been traversing the globe since 2006, sourcing a selection of ten authors from specific cities to collate ten short stories that depict the social, historical or political essence of their contemporary city.
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Wasafiri Wonders: Anthony Joseph
‘...I have become more Trinidadian away from Trinidad. It’s a liminal position, being a Caribbean writer in the UK. For me, it is a position of longing but also of transformation through longing.’ … Ever wondered what your favourite writer’s first drafts look like?
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Natural Causes by Ruby D. Jones
‘Natural Causes’ deftly narrates two parallel stories: of the narrator’s discovery of a dead blue tit in her garden, and her reflections on the death of a close friend, whose death—of natural causes or by suicide?—is an unresolved presence in her life.
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'I am always writing a novel': In Conversation with Romesh Gunesekera
I first encountered Romesh Gunesekera’s work back in 1999 when he gave a reading from his short story collection Monkfish Moon.
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Writing Britain Now: Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan
Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan’s debut poetry collection, Postcolonial Banter, was published by Verve Poetry Press in 2019. It features some of her most well-known and widely performed poems as well as some never-seen-before material.
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Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2019: Winners Announced
The winners of the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2019, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year, were announced at our 35th birthday festival, 'An Island Full of Voices: Writing Britain Now', at the British Library on 9 November.
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Wasafiri Wonders: Hamid Ismailov
'The first draft is handwritten with a fountain-pen on A4 grid paper, then it’s typed and edited at the same time...
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Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2019: Shortlist
The shortlist of the Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize 2019 has been announced, with five shortlisted writers each in the categories of Fiction, Life Writing, and Poetry. The winners will be announced on 9 November 2019 at the British Library as part of our 35th birthday celebrations:
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