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Event information

7 Sep 2020


BP Lecture Theatre

British Museum, Great Russell Street,

London, WC1B 3DG


  • £12
  • £10 (Members)
  • £10 (Concessions)


This moving discussion explores how literature can represent the experience of migrations and exile.

'Whatever the proper name for these people… one thing is absolutely clear: they make it very difficult to talk about the plight of the writer in exile with a straight face. Yet talk we must.' – Joseph Brodsky. 

Chaired by Edmund de Waal, it features award-winning novelist Elif Shafak, British-Libyan writer Hisham Matar, Uzbek journalist and writer Hamid Ismailov and broadcaster and writer Kavita Puri.

Edmund de Waal is the artist behind the Museum's current library of exile installation.

Guest speakers

Hisham Matar was born in New York City to Libyan parents and spent his childhood first in Tripoli and then in Cairo. He's the author of the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted In the Country of Men and the Pulitzer Prize-winning non-fiction book, The Return. He lives in London.

Hamid Ismailov

Hamid Ismailov is an award-winning Uzbek journalist and writer who was forced to flee Uzbekistan in 1992 due to what the state dubbed 'unacceptable democratic tendencies'. He came to the UK, where he took a job with the BBC World Service where he worked for 25 years. His works are banned in Uzbekistan.

Kavita Pur

Kavita Puri works in BBC Current Affairs and is an award-winning TV executive producer and radio broadcaster. Her landmark three-part series Partition Voices for BBC Radio 4 won the Royal Historical Society's Radio and Podcast Award and its Public History Prize. 

Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak, shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2019, is an inspiring, award-winning novelist and the most widely read woman writer in Turkey. She is also a political commentator. Writing in both Turkish and English, she is best known for her novels, The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love. Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages.