Writing is a form of resistance, particularly where cultures face erasure by oppressive forces. Throughout the history of Empire, there have been writers willing to speak out and offer their own truths to counter dominant narratives.

Skilled novelists can make experiences that seem distant to us feel close and real, breaking down barriers between ourselves and others and enabling us to see the world in a different light.

Kamila Shamsie’s A God In Every Stone transported us into the lived experiences of Empire, while Nitasha Kaul’s Residue explored the complexities of exile from a decolonising nation and the blending of different heritages and cultures.

Join Kamila and Natasha, in conversation with journalist, Boyd Tonkin, as they share the influences on their writing and discuss what it means to write about the legacies of an empire in a world where imperial pasts are increasingly viewed with nostalgia.

About The Speakers

Nitasha Kaul

Dr Nitasha Kaul is a Kashmiri novelist, academic, poet, economist, and artist. Her novel Residue was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, deals with themes of Kashmiri identity, nation-state borders, and absence. Currently, she teaches in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster. She continues to write and speak on issues of democracy, political economy, neoliberalism, Kashmir, nationalism in India, and Bhutan.

Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie is the author of six novels, the most recent of which, A God in Every Stone, was shortlisted for the Baileys Prize, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Three of her novels have received awards from Pakistan’s Academy of Letters.

Photo by Zain Mustafa

About The Chair

Boyd Tonkin

Boyd Tonkin is an award-winning journalist who currently writes on literature and culture for The Financial Times, The Economist, Newsweek and The Spectator. He was previously Literary Editor and then Senior Writer at The Independent, where he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and judged the award for 15 years. He chaired the jury of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, and now serves as the prize’s Special Adviser.