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“This event felt so extreme and so difficult and complex and unusual, that I couldn’t find anywhere in literature that knew anything about how to manage and process it.”

writer and activist

Preti Taneja in conversation with Colin Grant

Preti Taneja reflects on her work as an engaged writer with disenfranchised groups, and how her prose might be used as a tool for minority rights.

Biography

Preti Taneja is a writer and activist. Her debut novel We That Are Young (Galley Beggar Press) is a translation of Shakespeare’s King Lear, set in contemporary India. It won the Desmond Elliott Prize and was listed for awards including the Folio Prize, the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize and the Prix Jan Michalski, Europe’s premier award for a work of world literature. It is published by AA Knopf in the USA, and in translation worldwide.

Preti’s second book is Aftermath, a lament on trauma, terror, prison and grief, following the London Bridge terror attack in 2019. Published in the ‘Undelivered Lectures’ series by Transit Books, USA, and by And Other Stories in the UK, it was a New Yorker notable book, a New Statesman Book of the Year and the winner of the Gordon Burn Prize, 2022.

Her writing has been published in The White Review, the Guardian, Vogue India, the New Statesman and in anthologies of short stories, essays, literary criticism and prose poetry.

 

Preti has taught writing in prisons, worked with arts practitioners around the world mediating their own conflict and post conflict zones, and with young people across deprived parts of the UK who want to get published. She is Professor of World Literature and Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and winner of the 2022 Philip Leverhulme Prize in Languages and Literatures. As a New Generation Thinker, she broadcasts for Radio 3 and 4 on world literature and culture.

With Ben Crowe she co-founded ERA Films, a collective working on issues as diverse as Iraq’s refugee crisis, in Rwanda with survivors of the genocide and with women in slum areas of Nairobi, Kenya and on major interactive multimedia documentaries including on migrant workers’ rights.

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