In Memoriam: Shusha Guppy

English PEN is deeply saddened by the loss of Writers in Prison Committee Member, the writer and singer Shamsi ‘Shusha’ Guppy, who died on Friday 21 March.

Shusha, with her profound knowledge of several cultures and literatures, contributed a huge amount to English PEN, most recently travelling to Egypt on behalf of the WiPC in September 2007 to investigate the state of free expression in that country and the case of a young blogger in prison.

Anne Sebba writes: “From the moment Shusha joined the Writers in Prison Committee she brought laughter, sparkle, warmth and elegance to the meetings. We were all her darlings. But that was not all. There was a deep intelligence as well. She brought many of the same qualities to her writing, some of which I feel privileged to have read. Magic, music and storytelling were in her blood, as any who heard her sing will know. She often wrote her own songs. She was also an impassioned fighter against injustice and we were lucky to have had her doing battle on the WiPC for the few years that she did.”

Jonathan Fryer writes: “The Persian writer, singer and composer Shamsi ‘Shusha’ Guppy, who has died of cancer, was a remarkable creature in many ways. The daughter of a Grand Ayatollah in Tehran – and possibly directly descended from the Prophet Mohammed himself – she was urbane, open-minded and often wily… Shusha was as small as the Queen, and just as determined, and at times could indeed be quite regal. At others, she was modesty itself – just one of her many contradictions… She made a mark as a singer of both Persian and Western songs, though I for one valued her books above all: personal, idiosyncratic and insightful.” 

To read Shusha’s obituary in The Guardian, please click here.

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