Bidisha
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Bidisha is a writer and broadcaster who also does outreach work in UK detention centres and prisons. She is a 2013 Fellow for the International Reporting Project, reporting on global health and development together with Johns Hopkins University and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Her most recent book is the internationally acclaimed and bestselling reportage Beyond the Wall: Writing a Path Through Palestine (May 2012). As of spring 2013 she is a trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation.

Bidisha began writing for arts magazines i-D, Oyster, Volume, Dazed and Confused and the NME at 14. She signed her first book deal, with HarperCollins, at 16. Her first novel, Seahorses, was published to commercial and critical success when she was 18. During this time she also had regular opinion columns in The Big Issue magazine and The Independent. Bidisha's second novel, the thriller Too Fast to Live, was published when she was 21. Bidisha then lectured in Political Theory, was a contributing editor of the women's magazine Sibyl and style magazine 2nd Generation and edited and art directed the style magazine The Stealth Corporation. Her third book, the bestselling travel memoir Venetian Masters, was published in February 2008. She currently writes for The Guardian, the Financial Times, Mslexia, The Observer, New Statesman, New Humanist, The List, Arise and various publications in the Middle East. From the end of 2010 to early 2012 she had a weekly column in The Guardian called Bidisha's Thought for The Day. Bidisha's fourth book is the reportage Beyond the Wall: Writing A Path Through Palestine, published by Seagull/Chicago University Press.

Bidisha is also a presenter for BBC TV, Radio 3, Radio 4 and the World Service. She is a regular guest on BBC Two's Newsnight Review (now The Review Show), Sunday Morning Live and The Big Questions. For BBC Radio 4 she contributes regularly to Saturday Review and Woman's Hour, both of which she has guest presented, and Front Row, and has presented Archive on Four, Heart and Soul as well as various other documentaries and series. Standalone docs have included Texting Andy Warhol, on the role of text in art (R4); An Unofficial Iris, a study of Iris Murdoch's work and legacy (R4); an investigation into Jung's Red Book (R3); and The Countertenor, a highly acclaimed exploration of the countertenor voice for Radio 4. Bidisha was the regular presenter of BBC Radio 3's arts and ideas programme, Night Waves. On the World Service she guest presented the books programme The Word and was the presenter of the flagship arts show, The Strand.

She has judged the following arts prizes: The Orange Prize (2009), The John LLewellyn Rhys Prize (2010), BBC World Cinema Awards (2010), the Comment awards (2012), Bristol Short Story Prize (2012 and 2013), Polari Prize (2012 and 2013), Foyles Book of Ideas Prize (2012) and the Somerset Maugham Prize (2013 - 2016). She is a patron of the SI Leeds Literary Prize, the Panda Performing Arts Network, the London Feminist Film Festival and, as of 2013, a trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation.

Her fifth book, Asylum and Exile: The Hidden Voices of London will be published Seagull Books/Chicago University Press in December 2014.

Bidisha is represented by Kelly Falconer. Her formal name is Bidisha SK Mamata but she has always written, spoken and broadcast under her first name only.

Entries by Bidisha

Dear Internet, I'm Just Going For A Walk. I May Be Some Time.

(0) Comments | Posted 13 November 2013 | (13:59)

At the end of 2013 I will be stepping away from blogging until June 2016, by which time I'm sure blogging will be obsolete. It feels excellent to discard a cultural practice which sounds and has begun to feel like a combination of bragging, slogging, slobbing, blabbing, blubbing,...

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When It Comes To Global Health You Need Human Resources To Save Human Lives

(0) Comments | Posted 7 November 2013 | (15:01)

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Midwives studying in Somalia, image (c) WHO

The World Health Organisation is making a strong move to tackle a common and vital theme in all its global health initiatives, an issue which, if ill-managed, would jeopardise even the best intentioned and best...

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Is Your Muff Big Enough? Introducing Miss Pokeno and the Sisters of Perpetual Resistance

(0) Comments | Posted 27 October 2013 | (16:46)

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Photo courtesy Miss Pokeno and the Sisters of Perpetual Resistance

I first discovered the work of artist Miss Pokeno at the Guildhall Art Gallery's ongoing Victoriana exhibition, which runs until 8th December this year. At first glance the...

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Walking to Promote Global Development and Girls' Education From India to Indonesia

(1) Comments | Posted 7 October 2013 | (00:00)

A little over a year ago I highlighted the work of PAWA, the Pan Asian Women's Association, which focuses on global development and girls' and women's empowerment across multiple territories. By raising and carefully apportioning funds for credible, manageable-scale local charities, PAWA's work covers 30 countries...

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Meet Kanchi Tamang, Nepalese Waste Picker

(0) Comments | Posted 2 October 2013 | (15:29)

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Kanchi Tamang, working. All photos courtesy of Practical Action

Kanchi Tamang is a waste-picker in Nepal. A mother and a grandmother, she works long hours in unsafe and unclean conditions for a pittance. After contracting Hepatitis C, then developing painful gallstones,...

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Sarah LeFanu: The Writer Who Travelled From Outer Space to Mozambique Via Bath

(0) Comments | Posted 17 September 2013 | (19:12)

I was rebuked for loving science fiction at school, told to read proper literature and then taken aside by my teacher Mrs Yates and quietly advised to check out Doris Lessing's magisterial Shikasta series. There are many millions of women and girls like me, who love science fiction...

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To The Publisher Who Sent Me an Anthology Spanning More Than 500 Years and 226 Writers, Only 44 of Them Women

(1) Comments | Posted 15 September 2013 | (23:48)

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Image above by BSKM. Some small and very obvious details have been changed to protect the guilty.


Dear Hubert,

Hello - I've just finished looking through your soon-to-be-published major anthology of diary snippets, journals and letters, Four Seasons in Bangassou....

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Wena Poon: The Fearless Global Author Grossing Genres, Art Forms and Publishing Platforms

(0) Comments | Posted 13 September 2013 | (18:56)

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Photo of Wena Poon by Shanti Matulewski

I first encountered the work of Wena Poon in 2010, with the publication of her excellent novel Alex y Robert, about a young American woman who wants to become a bullfighter. Produced...

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Making Home: The Legacy of Ugandan Asians in the UK

(0) Comments | Posted 9 September 2013 | (15:05)

A new exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society is to commemorate the legacy of Ugandan Asians in the UK. The culmination of a year-long oral history project about the impact of Idi Amin's expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972, it reveals rarely seen materials and stories whose...

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Cutting Us Down To Size: Working to End Female Genital Mutilation

(1) Comments | Posted 2 September 2013 | (22:59)

It's an interesting thing, being a British human rights activist 'of colour', feeling at once absolutely British and completely international. Usually, this position is enriching and inspiring. I am invested in relatively local (and by local I mean within the UK, America or Western Europe) protests against everything including endemic...

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Congratulations, First Great Western, You Just Lost A Regular Customer

(3) Comments | Posted 29 August 2013 | (22:18)

"Welcome to this 13:30 First Great Western service from Bristol Temple Meads to London Paddington, arriving at London Paddington at 15:14. The quiet carriages can be found in Coach A to the very rear of the train, and in Coach F in First Class. If you're travelling in...

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Doctors Without Borders Issue an Urgent Press Release About the Humanitarian and Health Crisis in Syria

(12) Comments | Posted 28 August 2013 | (00:00)

This is a guest article on behalf of Doctors Without Borders in the wake of the reported chemical attacks in Syria.

According to the latest update from Doctors Without Borders/ Medecins Sans Frontieres, three hospitals in Syria's Damascus governorate that are supplied by Doctors Without Borders reported that...

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Mesmerised By Women, but for One Notable Exception: 2013 Edinburgh Festival Review

(1) Comments | Posted 23 August 2013 | (00:00)

There are some dancers I wish I'd seen live. Nijinsky at the height - or depth - of his tormented and inspiring collaboration with Diaghilev. Nureyev and Fonteyn towards the end of their joint career, physically stronger than ever, each move made electric by their chemistry; it doesn't matter that...

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The Saudi Women Laughing in the Face of Inequality at Home and Ignorance Abroad

(17) Comments | Posted 15 August 2013 | (00:00)

"How wonderful that they've been allowed to protest." That was an English war reporter, a pioneering woman, talking about the women who led demonstrations during the revolutions in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. We were at a panel event and her comment prompted a sharp, insulted intake of...

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From Mosquito Nets to Life-saving Moisturiser: The London Team Tackling Global Health and Development

(0) Comments | Posted 15 July 2013 | (00:00)

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India project, (c) IGH

Academic and medical research lies at the core of the advocacy and consciousness-raising that global health journalists undertake, although the details of their vital labour, fieldwork and analysis are often unseen by lay readers. Sometimes academic and medical rigour is...

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Women for Women International Celebrates Grand Opening of Women's Opportunity Centre in Rwanda

(0) Comments | Posted 3 July 2013 | (00:00)

This is a post on behalf of Women for Women International, based on their recent press announcement, backed by my endorsement and admiration of their work. I am not affiliated with them or with any of the organisations mentioned.

Last Friday, Women for Women International...

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Healing the Problem of Flying Toilets: Solutions For Tackling Drought In Africa

(1) Comments | Posted 25 June 2013 | (00:00)

Like world hunger, which I covered briefly in the run-up to last week's G8 summit, drought is another issue which affects countless lives and livelihoods. However, global awareness of the issue is low, despite the shocking statistics: according to Practical Action, who have produced an infographic...

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World Hunger: Time Is Running Out

(14) Comments | Posted 14 June 2013 | (00:00)

I feel sorry for world leaders. All those regular summits in luxury resorts, where friends hang out with equally powerful friends in multiple acre leisure clubs and international five-star hotels, but alas have little time to enjoy the facilities. All those buffets, good linen and cruise ship-style dinner menus to...

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Syrian Exodus: Health, Help, Hypocrisy

(0) Comments | Posted 6 June 2013 | (00:00)

Trigger warning: this feature contains links to reports on and testimonies of sexual violence

A humanitarian crisis has many layers and many consequences. Each violent rupture aggravates the inequalities that existed there before, creating new divisions which tear societies apart and cause trauma which affects the generations that follow. Each...

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Women, War and Peace: What We Can All Learn From The Zimbabwean Women Fighting Violence As Elections Approach

(0) Comments | Posted 31 May 2013 | (00:00)

Five years ago, during the 2008 elections, Zimbabwean women were punished for claiming their right to have a say in the future of their country. Their move towards fair involvement in the political process as activists, advocates, interested citizens and voters were opposed by perpetrators' use of rape...

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