Writers Who Inspire Us

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Published by: Isy Paton

Published on: 17 Feb, 2021

In line with the TGIUK Story Telling competition, we review some other fantastic migrant voices who have put pen to paper to inspire us.

TogetherintheUK launched their very own Creative Writing Competition with the hope to hear your stories and find new migrant voices, and whilst your fabulous entries keep on coming, we thought we would take the opportunity to take a look at some other fantastic migrant voices who have put pen to paper to inspire us. 

Onjali Rauf

Onjali Rauf is a Sunday Times bestselling author. A second-generation migrant of Bangladeshi heritage, Rauf was born and raised in London. Her debut novel, ‘The Boy at the Back of the Class’ is a child’s perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness and was the winner of the 2019 Blue Peter Book Award. She is also the founder of Making Herstory, a woman’s rights organisation tackling the abuse and trafficking of women.

Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak is a Turkish-British writer who has published 18 books and writes in both Turkish and English. Her novel ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’ follows the journey of a 19-year-old who travels from Arizona to Istanbul in secret to learn about her Armenian roots. The book became a best-seller and has been translated into 54 different languages. Her novel ‘The Forty Rules of Love’ was chosen by the BBC among 100 Novels that Shaped Our World. Shafak is a Fellow and a Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature and has taught at Universities in Turkey, the US the UK, including Oxford University where she is an honorary fellow.

Caleb Femi

At 31 years old Caleb Femi is the youngest author on our list, as well as poet he is also a musician,  filmmaker and photographer. Born in Nigeria he moved to London when he was seven years old. In 2016 he was named London’s first Young People’s Poet Laureate. He uses spoken word, photography and film to portray his poetry, in the hope to make poetry more accessible to young people, and allow them to be heard. In his debut collection of poems ‘Poor’, he combines poetry and original photography to explore life as a young black man growing up in twenty-first-century London.

Laila Lalami

Moroccan- American novelist Laila Lalami, completed her MA in Linguistics in the UK. Her most recent novel, ‘The Other Americans’, the story of a Moroccan immigrant in California, was a national bestseller and a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and the National Book Award in Fiction.  Her latest book, a work of nonfiction called ‘Conditional Citizens’, recounts her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to U.S. citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of the rights, liberties, and protections that are traditionally associated with American citizenship.

Susan Abulhawa

Susan Abulhawa is a Palestinian American writer and founder of a non-governmental organization, Playgrounds for Palestine. Born in Kuwait, her parents were refuges of the Third Arab Israeli War. Her second novel ‘The Blue Between Sky and Water’, was sold in 19 languages.

Bernardine Evaristo

MBE and OBE, Bernardine Evaristo was born in South East-London, the fourth of eight children to her white English mother and Nigerian father. The author of eight books, she won the Booker Prize in 2019 for her novel ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ making her the first Black British woman to win it. She is a Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University and was Vice-Chair of the Royal Literature Society until 2020.

Kapka Kassabova

Bulgarian Kapka Kassabova is a writer of narrative non-fiction, poetry, and fiction, whose work explores the alchemy between places and people. Born to scientist parents, her family emigrated to New Zealand in 1992, where she studied French and Russian Literature. Her native tongue is Bulgarian, but she writes in English. She won critical acclaim for her 2017 travelogue ‘Border’, which describes the peoples living on the frontiers of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Novelist, Viet Thanh Nguyen won a Pulitzer Prize for his first novel ‘The Sympathizer.’ Set in Vietnam, where the author was born and in the USA, where he was raised, the novel tells the story of a group of South Vietnamese army officers who escape to the United States at the end of the Vietnam War. Nguyen moved to the US in 1975 and lived with his family in a refugee camp before settling in California. He went on to study English at Berkeley and is now a Professor of English and American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

We hope you will take a moment to explore these authors and that their stories will inspire to create your own and enter it in TGIUK’s Creative Writing Competition, which is open to first- and second-generation migrants in the UK until the end of April 2021 – Enter here now.

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