In partnership with Wolverhampton Literature Festival (WOLF), join our founder, Natasha Junejo, in conversation with bestselling author and award winning journalist, Sathnam Sanghera. Sathnam’s searing new book, Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain, explores the barbed and prickly sides of Britain’s uncomfortable past and addresses our inability as a nation to talk openly about its horrors and structures, still woven into the fabric of our society today.
This seminal book shows us how we might begin to balance the narrative around Britain’s colonial past by examining the truth and facts openly, with a discerning eye. It explains why we are here and how we have shaped British identity through our blood, sweat, tears, land, and resources. Simply put, Empireland is the wake up call we all need. It highlights the many gaps in our understanding of this thorny part of British history and the desperate need for a complete and utter overhaul of the UK compulsory curriculum.
Join us on Saturday 13th February at 7pm via WOLF’s livestream for this powerful discussion.
Sathnam Sanghera was born to Punjabi parents in the West Midlands in 1976. He entered the education system unable to speak English but, after attending Wolverhampton Grammar School, graduated from Christ’s College, Cambridge with a first class degree in English Language and Literature. Before becoming a writer he (among other things) worked at a burger chain, a hospital laundry, a market research firm, a sewing factory and a literacy project in New York.
Between 1998 and 2006 he was at The Financial Times, where he worked (variously) as a news reporter in the UK and the US, specialised in writing about the media industries, worked across the paper as Chief Feature Writer, and wrote an award-winning weekly business column. Sathnam joined The Times as a columnist and feature writer in 2007 and is a regular contributor on national radio and TV, having appeared on programmes including Have I Got News For You and BBC Front Row Late and presented a range of documentaries, including The Massacre That Shook The Empire on Channel 4, which was shortlisted for best Factual TV show at the 2019 Asian Media Awards.
Sathnam’s first book, The Boy With The Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton, was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Biography Award, the 2009 PEN/Ackerley Prize and named 2009 Mind Book of the Year. It was adapted for BBC2 by Kudos/Parti Productions, was BBC TWO’s highest-rated single drama of the year, featured Bafta-nominated and EEACTA-winning performances, won a Mipcom Diversify TV Excellence Award, was named Best TV Programme at the 2018 Asian Media Awards and Best Single Drama at the RTS Midlands Awards.
His novel, Marriage Material, was shortlisted for a 2014 South Bank Sky Arts Award and a 2013 Costa Book Award, been longlisted for the 2014 Desmond Elliot Prize, picked by The Sunday Times, The Observer and Metro as one of the novels of 2013, and cited as one of the Guardian Readers’ Books of the Year in 2014. It is being adapted for the stage at the Birmingham Rep by award-winning playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti.
He has been a judge for The Wellcome Book Prize and The Costa Book Awards, was formerly a trustee for mental health charity Rethink and chair of media charity Creative Access, and is a patron for Writing West Midlands. He lives in London and his third book, EmpireLand: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain will be published by Viking Books in 2021.
Natasha Junejo is the founder of South Asian Writers, a community that began from a viral hashtag inviting writers of South Asian descent to introduce themselves and their work in 2017. The community has since flourished and aims to platform and uplift writers from the SA community through; features, book launches, speaking events, and collaborative visual ethnography projects like, Our Stories Matter.
In the wake of the EU Referendum result, Natasha co-founded two social justice movements, Worrying Signs and More Tea Less Hate, focused on exposing and fighting politically motivated racist and xenophobic abuse and violence that gained worldwide press attention and influenced UK government policy.
Natasha is passionate about creating access and opportunity for marginalised people and is committed to this fight at every level of society. She is currently developing a television and film writing programme across the US and UK for BIPOC writers and writers from underrepresented communities who have little to no prior experience in this area. In 2018, she was a national finalist in Penguin Random House’s Editorial Scheme and she now proudly leads the Literary arm of South Asian Heritage Month UK.
Natasha is based in London, you can follow her work on Twitter on @SthAsianWriters, @natashajunejo, and on Instagram.