Asylum and Exile: Hidden Voices of London

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Host: English Pen and Free Word
Location: Free Word Lecture Theatre, Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3GA
Speaker: Bidisha, Nadifa Mohamed, Malika Booker, Maurice Wren (Chair)

Anti-immigration rhetoric is on the rise throughout Europe – but what are the untold stories of the people behind the headlines?

Inspired by a residency with English PEN and outreach work with refugees and asylum seekers since 2012, Bidisha goes behind the stereotypes and scare stories in her new publication Asylum and Exile: The Hidden Voices of London to reveal the humanity, tragedy and bravery – and frequently the humour – of the individuals who have left everything behind to seek sanctuary from violence.

Bidisha gives space to their testimonies, which are by turns shocking, moving and hilarious.

Join Bidisha, author Nadifa Mohamed (Black Mamba Boy, The Orchard of Lost Souls) and writer and performance poet Malika Booker for an evening of readings, storytelling and debate.

The event will be chaired by Maurice Wren, CEO of Refugee Council.

Bidisha is a writer and broadcaster, outreach worker and international human rights journalist. She is the author of two novels, the travelogue Venetian Masters and the international acclaimed reportage Beyond the Wall: Writing a Path through Palestine.

Nadifa Mohamed was born in Hargesia, Somalialand and moved to England with her family in 1986. Her first novel, Black Mamba Boy, was longlisted for the Orange Prize, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and won the Betty Trask Prize. The Orchard of Lost Souls won a Somerset Maugham Prize in 2014. Her work has been published in 16 languages and her writing regularly appears in the Guardian, Granta, Virginia Quarterly Review and the Independent. She lives in London and is currently working on her third novel.

Maurice Wren joined the British Refugee Council as Chief Executive in March 2013, having previously been the Director of Asylum Aid (2002 – 2013). Prior to Asylum Aid, Maurice held senior positions in the homelessness field at Shelter and the Housing Associations Charitable Trust (HACT). He is presently co-Chair of the National Asylum Stakeholder Forum at the Home Office, Chair of the Refugee Week Steering Group, and a Trustee of Migrant Voice; Every Casualty Worldwide; and the European Network on Statelessness.  

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