A Poet's Music - portrait photos of Kayo Chingonyi (left) and Nathalie Handal (right) on a blue background

Virtual Conversations With Celebrated Writers and Thinkers

Curated specially for a festival that loves conversations in a time that limits face-to-face meetings, Global Conversations focuses on the conversations that some of the most creative minds of our planet have been dying to have with people who live far away from them. 

Join us from wherever you are in the world to listen to conversations with internationally celebrated writers and thinkers.

Monique Roffey and C Pam Zhang

Global Conversations: Myth and Discovery

To celebrate the 180th anniversary of The London Library, Monique Roffey (UK) and C Pam Zhang (USA) come together to discuss the common themes of myth and discovery

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C Pam Zhang
Photo by Gioia Zloczower

C Pam Zhang

C Pam Zhang was born in Beijing but is mostly an artifact of the United States, has lived in thirteen cities and is still looking for home. Her debut novel How Much of These Hills is Gold was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020 and the Rathbones/Folio Prize 2021 and was one of Barack Obama’s Favourite Books of 2020. Her work appears in Kenyon Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Tin House and elsewhere. She currently lives in San Francisco.  

Monique Roffey

Monique Roffey

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and mostly educated in the UK. Monique is the author of six novels and a memoir including The Mermaid of Black Conch, which won the Costa Book of the Year, 2020 and was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and the Rathbones/Folio Award. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2010 and Archipelago won the OCM Bocas Award for Caribbean Literature in 2013.

Portraits of Befekadu Hailu (left) and Eyob Derillo (right)

Global Conversations: A Heritage of Resistance

Befekadu Hailu (Ethiopia) & Eyob Derillo (UK) unpack their roots in resistance and imagine what Ethiopia's future might be

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Portrait of Eyob Derillo

Eyob Derillo

Eyob Derillo is curator for Ethiopic and Ethiopian collections at the British Library's department of Asia and Africa Studies. With a background in Art, Archaeology and Film, he is completing a doctorate at SOAS department of Religions and Philosophies, focusing on the nature and historical development of the concept of Ethiopian ‘magic’ and its use within a specifically Christian context. A regular contributor to documentaries for BBC Radio, Eyob co-curated the British Library’s highly acclaimed exhibition Harry Potter: History of Magic in 2017 and, more recently, the British Library's exhibition African Scribes: Manuscript Culture of Ethiopia – first exhibition to be held at the Library devoted entirely to Ethiopian manuscripts. He is currently working on a documentary about Prince Alemayehu Tewodros.

Portrait of Befekadu Hailu

Befekadu Hailu

A writer and advocate for liberal democracy in Ethiopia, Befekadu Hailu is an Executive Director at the Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD), having previously worked as an independent writer and activist for sociopolitical rights for more than a decade. He co-founded the multi-award winning Zone 9 Blogging and Activism Collective and served as an editor and opinion writer for many local print media outlets including Enqu and Weyeyet Magazines as well as Addis Maleda Amharic weekly. As a result of his activism, Befekadu has been unjustly prosecuted four times, spending a total of 596 days in jail, but never once found guilty. He is a weekly contributor to Deutsche Welle (Amharic Service), a Freedom Fellow at Human Rights Foundation, and a Draper Hills Fellow at the CDDRL, Stanford University. In 2019, he received the PEN Award for International Writer of Courage.

Portraits of  Dr Kelvin Black (left) and Courttia Newland (UK) (right)

Global Conversations: African Diaspora Movements

Courttia Newland (UK) & Dr Kelvin C. Black (USA) discuss African Diaspora Movements, from tap dance and patois to South African viral hit Jerusalema

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A portrait of Courttia Newland

Courttia Newland

Courttia Newland has published eight works of fiction including his debut, The Scholar. His latest novel, A River Called Time, was published by Canongate in 2021. A forthcoming collection of speculative fiction stories, Cosmogramma, will also be published this year. Newland’s short stories have appeared in many anthologies, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and included in Best of British Short Stories 2017. He has been awarded the Tayner Barbers Award for science fiction writing and the Roland Rees Bursary for playwriting. He was previously associate lecturer in creative writing at the University of Westminster and is completing a PhD in creative writing. As a screenwriter he has co-written two feature length films for the Steve McQueen BBC series Small Axe, of which Lovers Rock was jury selected for Cannes, and opened New York Film Fest 2020. Small Axe won the LA Critics Circle award 2020 for Best Picture. Impact, an original feature, and The Future Isn’t What It Used to Be, a science fiction short, are currently in development with Film Four.

A portrait of Kelvin C Black

Kelvin C. Black

Kelvin C. Black is Associate Professor of Transatlantic Studies in the English Department at Hunter College, City University of New York. His research focuses on transatlantic political discourses. He is the author of the forthcoming The Atlantic Dilemma: Reform or Revolution across the Long Nineteenth Century.

Portraits of Haruki Oyamada (Japan) (left) and Kiley Reid (USA) (right)

Global Conversations: Writing Work

Two pivotal writers of the future, Kiley Reid (USA) & Hiroko Oyamada (Japan), unpack the culture of work and what it tells us about being human

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Portrait of Kiley Reid
Image © David Goddard

Kiley Reid

Kiley Reid earned her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was awarded the Truman Capote Fellowship and taught creative writing with a focus on race and class. Her short stories have been featured and are forthcoming in Ploughshares, December, New South and Lumina. Such A Fun Age, her debut novel, is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller.

Portrait of Oyamada Hiroko
Image © Shinchosha Publishing Co Ltd

Hiroko Oyamada

Born in Hiroshima in 1983, Hiroko Oyamada won the Shincho Prize for New Writers for The Factory, which was drawn from her experiences working as a temp for an automaker’s subsidiary. Her following novel, The Hole, won the Akutagawa Prize.

A Poet's Music

Global Conversations: A Poet's Music

Award-winning poets Nathalie Handal and Kayo Chingonyi share music and poetry

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Nathalie Handal
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Nathalie Handal

Raised in Latin America, Nathalie Handal is a French-American poet, playwright, translator, and editor originally of a Palestinian family from Bethlehem. In addition to Latin America, she has been educated in, and has lived in, Asia, Europe, the Arab world, and the United States. Nathalie is a professor at Columbia University, a Visiting Writer at the American University of Rome and she writes the literary travel column The City and the Writer for Words without Borders. Widely acclaimed for her writing both as essayist and poet, Nathalie holds an MFA in poetry from Bennington College and an MPhil in drama and English from the University of London. She is the author of seven books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed Poet in Andalucía, and Love and Strange Horses, as well as the recent Life in a Country Album.

Kayo Chingonyi

Kayo Chingonyi

Kayo Chingonyi was born in Zambia in 1987, and moved to the UK at the age of six. His first full-length collection, Kumukanda, won the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Prize. It was also shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre First Poetry Collection Prize, the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, the Roehampton Poetry Prize and the Jhalak Prize. Kayo was a Burgess Fellow at the Centre for New Writing, University of Manchester, and an Associate Poet at The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. He has performed his work at festivals and events around the world, is Poetry Editor for The White Review, and an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Durham University. His latest book is A Blood Condition.