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Kamila Shamsie: writing the unfamiliar


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An RSL/Booker Prize Foundation Masterclass with Kamila Shamsie on writing the unfamiliar.

Top Tips

  1. Writing has to be about discovery – don’t limit your ideas of what you’re allowed to discover.
  1. Keep in mind what Colum McCann once said – rather than writing what you know, write towards what you want to know.
  1. Never underestimate what can be achieved by the combination of research and imagination
  1. There is no such thing as a singular experience of a place, a time, an event, a gender. Think about how your characters live through what is happening to them rather than attempting to write the definitive account of any experience.

Reading list

  • The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje
  • The Hired Man – Aminatta Forna
  • Ice Road – Gillian Slovo
  • The Wasted Vigil – Nadeem Aslam
  • In the Orchard, the Swallows – Peter Hobbs

Recorded on: April 11, 2015
Recorded at: Somerset House
Sponsored by: Booker Prize Foundation