Reading Campaign for South Asian Literature

CAMPAIGN DATES: Monday 30 Jan – Sunday 5 Feb 2012

Kamila Shamsie, Geoff Dyer and Jamila Gavin are among the authors supporting the pilot Reading Campaign for South Asian Literature which will look to use South Asian literature to inspire reading and writing an London Boroughs where English is a second language.

 The campaign will include author events in primary and secondary schools will run in parallel with independent bookshop promotions and BBC Radio 4 will host an event on eve of the Reading Campaign to record three new South Asian short stories.

Amphora Arts, the organisers behind the autumn-based DSC South Asian Literature Festival, are piloting a new Reading Campaign using popular and critically acclaimed South Asian titles to inspire more reading and writing in schools. Supported by a seed funding grant from the Arts Council for this initial scheme, Amphora Arts is co-ordinating a short series of events in schools and supplying promotional materials to them and to selected bookshops. The pilot Reading Campaign includes:

  • Talks, storytelling and workshops by writers at school assemblies or in classes
  • Dedicated displays of South Asian titles at a range of independent bookshops with online promotions where possible
  • Printed bookmarks and materials featuring ‘Recommended South Asian Reads’ to be distributed by libraries, bookshops and at the school events. The notable titles from the recently awarded $50,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature are also highlighted.
  • Online support from Foyles, The Book Depository and

Authors and broadcasters are being enlisted as ‘Campaign Ambassadors’, with many choosing an adult and children’s book linked to South Asia which has inspired them in their lives or career as a writer.

Kamila Shamsie said: ‘My reading life, my life in general, would have been greatly impoverished if not for all the South Asian writers who've kept me company from adolescence through to the present day — from Attia Hosain to Anita Desai to Salman Rushdie to Sara Suleri to Michael Ondaatje to Nadeem Aslam to Tahmima Anam. Don't read them because it's good for you; read them because they're that good.’

Nikki Bedi said: ‘Reading is one of the few easily obtainable keys to life … when people read, they unlock worlds and minds. Many of us grow up as bi-cultural in the UK, so to have literature that speaks to us specifically but includes and educates everyone is marvellous. The moment I was introduced to Jamila Gavin's Grandpa Chatterji books I bought them for all the children in my life. When I picked up A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) a few years later whilst living in LA, I could barely communicate with the world; it so absorbed me and moved me. What an extraordinary joy when other people, who don't share my heritage, love the book too.’

Geoff Dyer added he was ‘very happy’ to support this ‘excellent campaign’.

Jon Slack and Bhavit Mehta from Amphora Arts: ‘The response we’ve had so far has been very encouraging. Schools and bookshops have snapped up the opportunity to get involved, and authors have been incredibly supportive. Everyone wants to see this grow bigger for obvious reasons — more books and reading in UK schools is something that benefits everyone. The pilot is already allowing us to gain a much clearer picture about what it is teachers, booksellers and librarians are looking for and hopefully in the autumn we can come back with an even wider-ranging campaign.’

The DSC South Asian Literature Festival has also teamed up with Heavy Entertainment to record three new short stories live at Soho Theatre on 29 January at 7pm. The event, titled ‘Under the Skin’, will include stories by three of Britain’s sharpest young voices: Kavita Bhanot, Reshma Ruia and NSR Khan. Their stories will be performed by Deni Francis, Lyndam Gregory and will feature a discussion with the authors afterwards.

Campaign activity details

Author events

Mon 30 Jamila Gavin Burleigh Primary School

Tues 31 Daljit Nagra Acton High School

Tues 31 Jamila Gavin Krishna-Avanti Edgware Primary School

Tues 31 Irfan Master Mulberry High School for Girls

Tues 31 Shereen Pandit Springwell Junior School and Heston Library

Wed 1 Craig Jenkins Mitchell Brook Primary School

Wed 1 Avaes Mohammad The Norwood School

Thurs 2 Nikesh Shukla Wembley High Technology College

Participating schools

Acton High School (Ealing)

Burleigh Primary School (Cheshunt, Herts)

Heston Library (Hounslow)

Krishna-Avanti Primary School (Harrow)

Mitchell Brook Primary School (Brent)

Mulberry High School for Girls (Tower Hamlets)

Norwood School (Lambeth)

Springwell Junior School (Hounslow)

Wembley Technology College (Brent)

Supporting bookshops

Brick Lane Bookshop

Clapham Books

Foyles online

Herne Hill Books

New Beacon Books

Newham Bookshop

Tales on Moon Lane

The Big Green Bookshop

Victoria Park Children’s

Supporting online partners

The Book Depository

Media queries contact:

Jon Slack | | 07747732995