27-year-old author and journalist KIA ABDULLAH takes the stage first with her psychological crime thriller, Child’s Play. Abdullah is outspoken about the stereotypes that litter British-Asian writing; in a column for Asiana magazine, she writes: “‘Ethnic novels’ typically casts Asian women in the role of subservient wife or daughter, quietly strong beneath a docile exterior… These women, no matter how alien to you or me, are hailed by the mainstream media as a true insight into the ‘fresh, rich and hidden world’ of the Asian community. These women, who concern themselves with over-salted dhal and creased lungis are the supposed gleaming windows into our ‘unfamiliar world’… Of course, we know different.”
Abdullah has used Child’s Play to break the cast of the ‘ethnic novel’. The thriller centres on Allegra Ashe, a young woman recruited by a covert government unit that entraps paedophiles. A tale of twisted sexuality and tortured morality, it has been described by New York Times bestselling author Thomas Perry as “a brave and intriguing novel that showcases Abdullah’s vivid imagination and flair for suspense".
In addition, the Bookfest will feature outspoken journalist YASMIN ALIBHAI-BROWN and comedian SHAZIA MIRZA who once joked that Muslims obviously don’t care about carbon emissions; they’re too busy burning their daughters.
Another controversial figure whose work will be featured is artist SARAH MAPLE. Her depiction of life as a mixed-race woman from a Muslim background includes a painting of the artist in a headscarf with a bare breast. The SaLon gallery in Notting Hill had its window smashed when featuring the artist, but stayed open regardless.
With these women as part of its line-up, the Wisewords Bookfest looks set to fulfil its promise of a thrilling, thoughtful, radical and humorous event.
Individual talks: £3-£6
Day ticket: £12
2-day ticket: £20
Available on the door or in advance