Guest 2010, 2012, 2013.

Priya Basil [ United Kingdom ]

Priya Basil was born in 1977 in London and grew up in Nairobi. She studied English Literature at the University of Bristol and went on to work for three years in the advertising industry before she had the chance to exclusively dedicate herself to writing. The result was her début novel »Ishq and Mushq« (2007). In this family saga that spans several generations moving between Uganda, England and India, Basil intertwines individual destinies against the background of historical upheavals and events, like the partition of British India and Winston Churchill’s funeral. With great stylistic sensibility, humour and elements of magical realism, she portrays identity and exile in a vivid and empathetic manner. Her second novel, »The Obscure Logic of the Heart« (2010) tells the love story of young Muslim Lina and Anil, a Sikh architecture student from Kenya. Conflict ensues as the two are influenced by diverging political and religious beliefs as well as by their families. The narrative is interspersed with fragments of an amorous correspondence from the past that reflects the young couple's difficult relationship and leads the reader to understand better the tensions between the different characters. Basil once again highlights the political dimensions of our private life as the relationship is also overshadowed by the corrupt developments in Anil's family, who are involved in gun-running, which Lina finds out about during an internship with the United Nations. Basil’s novella »Strangers on the 16:02« (2011) appeared in the Quick Reads series (a successful British initiative to motivate people who don’t read much to pick up short prose works by well-known writers). The story unfolds within the restricted space of a train carriage, where one incident dramatically ruptures the everyday lives of the passengers. Basil has also published essays in various publications, including »The Guardian« and the »Asian Literary Review«.

She was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and others for her début and landed second place in the »Book to Talk About 2008« competition initiated by the UNESCO World Book Day. The Women in Publishing network shortlisted her for the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade 2013. Basil supports organisations such as the Control Arms Campaign, a cooperation between Amnesty International, IANSA and Oxfam, which campaigns for the global legal regulation and control of the arms trade. In 2010, she set up the Authors for Peace initiative and, on the International Day of Peace, she organised a 24-hour worldwide reading at the 10th ilb with eighty international authors taking part. Basil lives in Berlin and London.