Only Connect

Recently I wrote an introduction to a fascinating panel discussion on immigration in the UK held by the Royal Society of Literature under their umbrella Only Connect…

Today’s Only Connect is from RSL Member Ali Thurm, who has chosen the recording of our event The Good Immigrant with Vahni CapildeoEva Hoffman and Nikesh Shukla discussing what it means to be an immigrant in the UK today. Chaired by Razia Iqbal

Good Immigrant panel

“When this recording was made in 2016, Britain was reeling from divisions brought into the open by the Brexit vote and the election of a bigot to the most powerful position in the world. Four years on, there is welcome support for #BlackLivesMatter and a Black woman has won the Booker Prize; but we’ve also witnessed the Windrush scandal and the tragedy of Grenfell. There is still a ‘toxic narrative’ around immigration, and the extreme right is gaining power. Post COVID-19, this discussion of what it means to be an immigrant is even more pertinent.”

Where I’m writing from…

“I joined the RSL in 2018 so I could hear writers talking about their work and to inform my own writing. I’d rather be out in the real world travelling to lectures, but I love catching up with all the recordings. It’s so important to feel connected. My first novel, One Scheme of Happiness, was published shortly before lockdown so all publicity events have been online – a steep learning curve. Like many other writers I found it impossible to focus during the initial stages of the pandemic but writing is getting easier. The novel I’ve been working on for the last couple of years imagines survival in a flooded world and, disconcertingly, mirrors the world we’re living in now (panic buying etc). I’ve just finished reading The Vanishing Half, which was excellent and now I’m reading a very moving memoir, The Pianist of Yarmouk.” 

my writing desk

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