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Choices and Compromises

Commonwealth Writers Conversation – The Untold Story: ‘Choices and Compromises – heard and silenced at home or less heard and labelled away?’

On 9 April at the Commonwealth Foundation, BBC journalist, Razia Iqbal, chaired a conversation between writers Shyam Selvadurai and Thomas Glave, and visual artist and activist Skye Chirape. The Conversation was invitation only, however a recording of the event is available below (11/04/14):


Commonwealth Writers Conversation

The event sparked off debate, conversation and interaction on the @cwwriters Twitter page:

Can culture kick start social change well before the legislative process can even begin?

Do  women’s rights and restrictive gender binaries need to be addressed before LGBT rights?

To stay home and live in fear/silence, or run and live/speak freely on foreign land?

‘Thomas Glave: “it can be good for an author to be between a rock and a hard place”.

Ubuntu philosophy: “We are well because you are well.” What is the responsibility of the artist faced with social discrimination?

Connect with us on Twitter @cwwriters #cwconvo to continue the conversation.


Razia Iqbal

Commonwealth Writers Conversations; LGBTIRazia Iqbal works as a Special correspondent and Presenter for BBC news; she is one of the main presenters of BBC World Service’s flagship current affairs programme, Newshour. She presents Talking Books for BBC World TV and the BBC news channel, a half hour interview programme with leading writers. She also presents documentaries and interview programmes on Radio 4 and World Service. Before that she was the BBC Arts correspondent for seven years.


Shyam Selvadurai

Commonwealth Writers Conversation; Shyam Selvadurai;  Shyam Selvadurai was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Funny Boy, his first novel, won the WH Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Lambda Literary Award in the US. He is the author of Cinnamon Gardens and Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, and the editor of an anthology, Story-wallah! A Celebration of South Asian Fiction. His books have been published in the US, the UK and India, and published in translation in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey and Israel. His latest novel, The Hungry Ghosts, was published April 2, 2013 in Canada, India and Sri Lanka.

 Thomas Glave

Commonwealth Writers Conversation; Thomas GlaveThomas Glave is the author of Whose Song? and Other Stories, Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent (Lambda Literary Award, 2005), The Torturer’s Wife (Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist and Lambda Literary Award finalist, 2008) and Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh (2013), recently named a 2014 Lambda Literary Award finalist.  He is editor of the anthology Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles (Lambda Literary Award, 2008).  His most recent work has appeared in The New York Times, The Kenyon Review, Callaloo, and in the 2012 anthologies Kingston Noir and Love, Christopher Street, among others.  Glave has been Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor at MIT, a 2012 Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge, and is a 2014 Leverhulme Visiting Professor in the University of Warwick’s Dept. of Hispanic Studies and in the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies.

Skye Chirape

Skye Chirape; Commonwealth Writers ConversationSkye Chirape is a Visual Activist/ Artivist who uses art to raise awareness of political, social and human-rights issues. Currently she focuses on homosexuality on the continent of Africa, on issues affecting LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees and issues impacting women. As a founder of Bones-na-unhu (www.bones-na-unhu.com), Skye uses art (cinematography, photography and fashion) to bring visibility to all these issues. She has spoken at Women of the World festival (2014), has had her portratit shot by Zanele Muholi representing Zimbabwe and as one of the 204 nations taking part in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and is currently co-curating an exhibition (on women issues) at the Shonibare studio for Guest projects Africa.