Mona Arshi and Preti Taneja in Conversation

Mona Arshi and Preti Taneja in Conversation

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BA Church Hall

160A Gloucester Road




United Kingdom

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Mona Arshi and Preti Taneja will be in conversation about their critically acclaimed books 'Somebody Loves You' and 'Aftermath'

About this event

We are absolutely delighted to welcome Mona Arshi & Preti Taneja to Bristol to discuss their work with writer and academic, Noreen Masud. These two authors have produced writing that is richly imagined, beautiful and urgent. Somebody Loves You was one of our favourite books of 2021, and Aftermath is one of the most extraordinary books we've read so far this year.


Mona Arshi was born in West London, where she still lives. She worked as a human-rights lawyer with the NGO Liberty for a decade before receiving a Master’s in creative writing from the University of East Anglia. Her debut poetry collection Small Hands was published in 2015, winning the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Mona Arshi regularly appears on BBC Radio 4. Her poems have been published in The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Times of India and most recently the London Underground.


Preti Taneja is a writer and activist. Her first novel, We That Are Young, won the Desmond Elliott Prize for the UK’s best debut of the year and was listed for international awards, including the Folio Prize, the Prix Jan Michalski, and the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize. It has been translated into several languages. Taneja lectures in creative writing at Newcastle University and broadcasts on world literature and culture for the BBC.


Noreen Masud is a Lecturer in Twentieth Century English Literature at the University of Bristol, and an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker. Her book on aphorism and Stevie Smith will be out with OUP in 2022; her memoir-travelogue A Flat Place will be published by Penguin in 2023.


Praise for Somebody Loves You

Plangent, deft, and sparkling with wry humour, Somebody Loves You is a moving exploration of how we choose or refuse to tell the stories that shape us.

'A teacher asked me a question, and I opened my mouth as a sort of formality but closed it softly, knowing with perfect certainty that nothing would ever come out again.'

Ruby gives up talking at a young age. Her mother isn’t always there to notice; she comes and goes and goes and comes, until, one day, she doesn’t. Silence becomes Ruby’s refuge, sheltering her from the weather of her mother’s mental illness and a pressurized suburban atmosphere.


Praise for Aftermath

Usman Khan was convicted of terrorism-related offences at age 20, and sent to high-security prison. He was released eight years later, and allowed to travel to London for one day, to attend an event marking the fifth anniversary of a prison education programme he participated in. On 29 November 2019, he sat with others at Fishmongers’ Hall, some of whom he knew. Then he went to the bathroom to retrieve the things he had hidden there: a fake bomb vest and two knives, which he taped to his wrists. That day, he killed two people: Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt.

Preti Taneja taught fiction writing in prison for three years. Merritt oversaw her program; Khan was one of her students. ‘It is the immediate aftermath,’ Taneja writes. ‘“I am living at the centre of a wound still fresh.” The I is not only mine. It belongs to many.’

In this searching lament by the award-winning author of We That Are Young, Taneja interrogates the language of terror, trauma and grief; the fictions we believe and the voices we exclude. Contending with the pain of unspeakable loss set against public tragedy, she draws on history, memory, and powerful poetic predecessors to reckon with the systemic nature of atrocity. Blurring genre and form, Aftermath is a profound attempt to regain trust after violence and to recapture a politics of hope through a determined dream of abolition.

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