Keynote Speakers

Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy’s sensational first novel, A God of Small Things, winning the Booker Prize, 1997, and subsequently translated into 42 languages, established her among the most exciting writers of her generation.  The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, her much-anticipated, second novel, was published recently and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2017.  Between these two moments, her numerous, major works of non-fiction, in both essays (“urgent interventions”) and book-length comment, have matched her international, intellectual significance:  18 books, including The Algebra of Infinite Justice, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy and Capitalism: A Ghost Story. The importance of these works has been reflected in a number of awards, including the Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Award (2002), the Sydney Peace Prize (2004) and, in 2011, the Norman Mailer Prize for Distinguished writing.


Elleke Boehmer

Elleke Boehmer was born in Durban and lives in Oxford, UK. She is the author of five novels including Screens against the Sky (1990), Bloodlines (2000), Nile Baby (2008), and The Shouting in the Dark (2015). Screens against the Sky was short-listed for the David Higham Prize, and Bloodlines for the Sanlam Prize. The Shouting in the Dark was long-listed for the Barry Ronge Sunday Times prize in South Africa. She is the author and editor of over fifteen other books, including Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (1995, 2005), Empire, the National and the Postcolonial: Resistance in Interaction (2002), Stories of Women (2005), Postcolonial Poetics: 21st-century critical readings (2018), and a widely translated biography of Nelson Mandela (2008). Indian Arrivals 1870-1915: Networks of British Empire (2015) was the winner of the biennial ESSE 2015-16 Prize. Sharmilla, and other Portraits (2010) was her first collection of short stories, and is now followed by To the Volcano, and other stories (2019). Elleke Boehmer is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Paper title: On Decolonization: the radical power of literary thinking


Witi Ihimaera

Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, Queen’s Service Medal

The first Māori writer to publish both a book of short stories and a novel, Witi Ihimaera considers ‘the world I’m in as being Māori, not European,’ and his fiction develops out of this perspective. He creates imaginative new realities for his readers, drawing from autobiographical experience. His novel, The Whale Rider, has become an internationally successful feature film. Māori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood won the General Non-Fiction Award at the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Most recently, Ihimaera was honoured for his fiction with the 2017 Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement.

Witi’s profile on the New Zealand Book Council


Melissa Lucashenko

Melissa is an acclaimed Australian writer of Goorie and European heritage. Since 1997 Melissa has been widely published as an award-winning novelist, essayist and short story writer. Her recent work has appeared in The Moth: Fifty True Stories, Meanjin, Griffith Review, and The Saturday Paper.

Melissa’s fifth novel of Aboriginal life, Mullumbimby, is a story of romantic love and cultural warfare. Mullumbimby won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Indigenous Writing, the Qld De Loitte Fiction Prize, and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin, Stella, and Dublin IMPAC Awards.

Melissa’s Griffith Review essay, “Sinking Below Sight: Down and Out in Brisbane and Logan” won the 2013 Walkley Award for Long Form Journalism (the Australian equivalent of a Pulitzer), one of two Walkley’s won by Griffith Review that year.

Melissa Lucashenko in the The Guardian


Kei Miller

Kei Miller was born in 1978 and grew up in Kingston, Jamaica.

He studied English at the University of the West Indies and moved to England to study for an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2004.

His first book was a collection of short stories, Fear of Stones and other stories (2006), shortlisted for a Commonwealth Writers Prize (Caribbean and Canada Region, Best First Book), and this was followed by two poetry collections – Kingdom of Empty Bellies (2006) and There Is An Anger That Moves (2007). His first novel, The Same Earth, was published in 2008.

His most recent books are the poetry collection The Cartographer Tries to Map A Way to Zion (2014), winner of the Forward Prize; and the novel AugustTown​ (2016), winner of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.

Kei Miller has been a visiting writer at York University, Canada; the Department of Library Services in the British Virgin Islands; Vera Rubin Fellow at Yaddo; and International Writing Fellow at the University of Iowa. He is also the editor of New Caribbean Poetry: An Anthology (2007), and teaches Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. He lives in London.

Kei Miller in action

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