My debut novel, The Invisible Crowd, was published by HarperCollins (HQ) in November 2017. It is a multi-voice novel about an asylum seeker's experiences in the UK, and was inspired by a case I worked on when barrister, and volunteer work I did with refugees and in an immigration detention centre.
Jude, the 'imaginer' of the novel, is a barrister who is on the brink of quitting law when an asylum case lands on her desk. She notices she shares a birth date with the client, Yonas, but their lives could not have been more different. She imagines the real story beneath the dry legal documents, and the novel brings this into being, as if the set of witness statements had been set free from legal restrictions. With interjections from Jude, every other chapter is narrated from Yonas's point of view. When we first meet him he is trapped in a grim shellfish factory near Grimsby, but he escapes and makes his way to London where he tries to forge a life and make a legal claim. Every alternate chapter is narrated by a different person he meets along the way, from a bin man to an artist, a teacher and a Home Office interviewer. Every chapter begins with a real tabloid headline.
I would love to hear what you think of the novel. Any nice words about it that you might feel moved to share with me, on Amazon or Goodreads, or to your friend down the road, would be hugely appreciated.
Saffron Shadows: Literature in Myanmar
My first book, Saffron Shadows and Salvaged Scripts: Literary Life in Myanmar Under Censorship and in Transition, was published in 2015 by Columbia University Press. It explores the fascinating lives of three generations of Burmese writers who lived and worked under one of the world's most oppressive censorship regimes, through extended interviews, new translations of their stories and poems, and my own descriptions of the place, people, history and context. It should appeal to anyone with an interest in Myanmar, literature in translation, censorship and international literature and culture.
Live Literature: research and practice
I am a curator and researcher of live literature.
I am researching live literature for my PhD in literary anthropology at the University of Stirling, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. I write ethnographies of live literature events, and I am particularly interested in the performance of fiction and in the qualitative experiences of participants, and in the intersections between creative practice and research. My book on Live Literature will be published by Palgrave as part of their new Literary Anthropology series in 2019. I have recently had an essay on literary anthropology published in the journal Ethnography.
I am the founder of Ark, an experimental live literature project to stage immersive short story performances in library spaces. Our aim is to push the boundaries of live literature through cross-arts collaborations, reanimating both library spaces and the short story form in creative ways. Our most recent show was at the British Library in 2018.