Literary Leicester events to tackle race, culture and class head-on

Posted by ew205 at Oct 19, 2017 11:37 AM |
Shrabani Basu, author of book-turned-feature-film Victoria and Abdul, among guests who will speak on literary works and issues pertaining to race, class, culture and religion

October 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of Black History Month in the UK - a month dedicated to recognising and celebrating black history, arts and culture.

A number of free public events taking place the following month at Literary Leicester will continue to shine a light on Black and Asian literature, and the real-life experiences that have shaped the works of these influential authors.

Literary Leicester is the University of Leicester’s free annual literature festival, providing an opportunity for literature enthusiasts of all ages across the county to hear from renowned writers and guest speakers from Wednesday 15 November to Saturday 18 November.

On 17 November, Shrabani Basu’s event at Literary Leicester will be a multi-faceted and unique evening experience. Basu will discuss her work Victoria and Abdul, The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant, which has recently been turned into a feature film starring Judi Dench by Leicester-born director Stephen Frears.

Basu was born in Calcutta and grew up in Dhaka, Kathmandu and Delhi. Her journalistic and authorial career has evolved from her observations about the shared histories of India and Britain.

Taking place at Leicester’s Phoenix cinema from 6.00pm, there will be an initial talk from Basu about her book and the writing experience.

Based on previously unseen private diaries and letters, Victoria and Abdul, The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant looks at the unusual friendship between Queen Victoria and her Indian servant, Abdul Karim, which caused a storm in the Royal Court.

The film adaptation of her book, Victoria and Abdul, will then be screened in the Phoenix cinema, followed by a Q&A. Tickets for the film screening will cost £8.90/£7.30 concessions/£6 Under 25 and Students.

On 18 November from 7.00pm to 8.00pm in the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, historian and broadcaster David Olusoga will discuss his multi-award winning book Black and British: A Forgotten History in conversation with Dr Corinne Fowler.

Accompanying a BBC2 series, Olusoga’s book unveils Britain’s multicultural heritage, the result of a longstanding relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa. The book investigates Roman Britain, the Medieval imagination, Georgian London and beyond.

Also on 18 November, acclaimed author of seven novels Kamila Shamsie will continue the theme of world fiction. Her guest appearance will take place in the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre from 5.30 pm to 6.30 pm.

Shamsie’s fictions range confidently across time and nations, bringing a global perspective to contemporary life, politics and relationships.

After a reading from her powerful new novel, Home Fire, long-listed for the 2017 Booker Prize, Shamsie will be in conversation with Fiona Tolan, discussing Home Fire and other works. This event is held in partnership with the Contemporary Women’s Writing Association.

Another event taking place on 18 November from 4.00 pm to 5.00 pm in the Attenborough Film Theatre is ‘Green Unpleasant Land: Rural Racism in Contemporary Britain’.

Research at the University’s Centre for Hate Studies shows that rural racism assumes a particularly persistent and virulent form. Historical, literary and sociological research is increasingly challenging notions that the countryside is a space of whiteness to which black Britons have never belonged.

For this panel event, two researchers Dr Corinne Fowler and Nathan Kerrigan, author Catherine Johnson, writer Tajinder Hayer and a local farmer David Mwanaka will discuss the experience and phenomenon of rural racism.

They will talk about the cultural and literary experiences which underpin this racism and consider how to combat it with evidence, writing and action.

Dr Corinne Fowler, Associate Professor of Postcolonial Literature at the University of Leicester School of Arts, said: “‘Literary Leicester is so good because it represents talent from the whole population and comes at topics from entirely new angles. We’ll be discussing (with David Olusoga) Britain’s forgotten black histories, rural racism and the history behind Victoria and Abdul, which involves acts of historical vandalism by the royal family.”

Free tickets for Literary Leicester events are available to book via Eventbrite here:

A full programme of Literary Leicester events here:


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