Asylum and Exile: Hidden Voices of London

3 February 2015, 6:45 pm8:15 pm |£3 - £5

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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.

Join Bidisha, author Nadifa Mohamed (Black Mamba Boy, The Orchard of Lost Souls), writer and performance poet Malika Booker and advocate for refugees and migrants Bethan Lant for an evening of readings, storytelling and debate about the real issues facing London’s migrants today.

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

Book tickets

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, also published by Seagull books.


MOHAMED NadifaNadifa 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.


Malika rock star smallMalika Booker is a British poet of Guyanese and Grenadian parentage. Her pamphlet Breadfruit was published by Flippedeye in 2008, and recommended by The Poetry Book Society. Malika’s collection Pepper Seed was published by Peepal Tree Press in 2013. It was longlisted for the OCM Bocas 2014 Literary prize and shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre 2014 Prize for best first full collection. Malika was the inaugural Poet in Residence at The Royal Shakespeare Company.


bethan lantBethan Lant has worked at Praxis Community Projects, a charity working with vulnerable migrants, for over 13 years.  She has particular expertise on migrants caught up in the criminal justice system and undocumented migrants.  She is a management committee member of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK and a former management committee member of London Citizens, where she was active in the Strangers into Citizens campaign for regularisation of undocumented migrants.


maurice wrenMaurice 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.


Asylum and Exile, published by Seagull Books, is part of the series Manifestos for the 21st Century.  Here distinguished writers address the issue of censorship in a complex and fragile world where people with widely different cultural habits and beliefs are living in close proximity, where offence is easily taken, and where words, images and behaviours are coming under the closest scrutiny.

Presented in partnership with Free Word Centre


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