By the Sea

Abdulrazak Gurnah reads from By the Sea.

The Chine

Mimi Khalvati reads from The Chine.


writing . culture . location

Retrospection took place at the Storey Institute on Wednesday 7 December 2005. The focus was on writing and critical/theoretical approaches that have developed in relation to decolonisation and might be defined variously as post-war European, postcolonial, Black British, British-Asian, first or second-generation migrant writing. Retrospection featured two talks by postcolonial critics on Black British & Caribbean writing and two readings by well-known contemporary writers – Booker-nominated novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah and Iranian poet Mimi Khalvati. This was a free event which tested University’s ability to involve a public audience in academic debate and celebration of contemporary literature.

About the Readings

Abdulrazak Gurnah’s By the Sea┬átells of an elderly man coming to Britain from Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania, as an asylum seeker. Rajab Shaaban–the name on his passport–does not explain to the British immigration authorities why he needs asylum, expecting only to be accepted, as the government of Zanzibar has been officially designated “as dangerous to its own citizens”.

In The Chine, Mimi Khalvati weaves themes rooted in her child-hood home, the British Isle of Wight. Through poetry she considers the houses in which she lived, the past coming into focus, and the most memorable feature of the island landscape, the chine-the local name for a feature where a stream has cut through solid rock. These poems also concentrate on family themes that allow Khalvati to demonstrate her lyrical skill while exploring the necessary connections between love in all its forms.

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