Under the Radar

Women writing from outside the Arab literary mainstream

Sun 16 July 2017, 3.15pm
British Library

Literature ·

Najwa Benshatwan (left) and Nadia Al-Kokabany (right)

Najwa Benshatwan (left) and Nadia Al-Kokabany (right)


Sun 16 July 2017, 3.15 – 4.30pm
Shubbak at the British Library


Single event ticket: £8 / £6 concs
One day: £16 / £14 concs
Both days: £24 / £22 concs
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British Library

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London, NW1 2DB
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In a global literary market where even the major writers from the best known Arab literary countries – Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon – are not very widely read and translated, how does it feel to be a woman author from Yemen, or Libya? What is it like to write fiction from countries outside of the main literary geographies, whilst also being a woman in a patriarchal world? What are the pressures and the inspirations, the challenges and the opportunities of these multiple levels of marginalisation?

Najwa Benshatwan grew up in Libya. The first woman in her family to be literate, she went on to win several Arabic literary prizes. Persecuted by the Gaddafi regime for her writing, she relocated to Italy, where she now lives. Her historical novel on Libya’s role in the slave trade, The Slave Pens, was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2017. She is currently working on a novel about female Eastern European migrants to Western Europe.

Nadia Al-Kokabany is a Yemeni academic and a prolific literary writer. Her fiction has been translated into English, French, German and Italian, and she has won prizes in Yemen and Kuwait. Her 2016 novel, The Ali Muhsin Market is a tale of the many different ways the Yemeni revolution turned her city’s life upside down.

Hosted by acclaimed journalist, critic, political analyst and broadcaster Bidisha. Bidisha is a journalist, critic, political analyst and broadcaster.  Her most recent book, Asylum and Exile: Hidden Voices of London, is based on her outreach work with asylum seekers and refugees. Bidisha has just completed her sixth book, a collection of travel pieces from India, Italy and China.

Shubbak at the British Library is presented in partnership with the British Library with additional support from the British Council, The International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Al Mawred Al Thaqafy, The British Institute for the Study of Iraq, Modern Poetry in Translation, Words Without Borders and the Institut français du Royaume-Uni.

Shubbak at the British Library

Part of Shubbak at the British Library – two days of inspirational Arab literature, including talks, panel discussions and workshops.
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