London, United Kingdom. 2014
“Humour is always ABCX. It’s the careful set-up followed by this thing that breaks the sequence, that you didn’t see coming. ABCD is never funny, it’s the kind of punch line you saw coming a mile away.” – Kei Miller
Humour can help us to make sense of the world, but are some things off-limits?
Forward Prize winning poet Kei Miller, novelist Leila Aboulela, and Commonwealth Short Story Prize winner Jennifer Makumbi talk about crossing cultures with humour and read from their work, in a conversation chaired by Romesh Gunesekera.
Kei Miller is a Jamaican writer. His first book was a collection of short stories, Fear of Stones and other stories, shortlisted for a Commonwealth Writers Prize. His most recent books are the novel The Last Warner Woman, the poetry collection The Cartographer Tries to Map A Way to Zion and the collection of essays Writing Down the Vision which won the 2014 Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (non-fiction).
Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan novelist, short story writer and poet. Jennifer has a PHD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and her doctoral novel, The Kintu Saga, won the Kwani Manuscript Project in 2013. The novel was published in 2014 under the title Kintu. Jennifer teaches Creative Writing at Lancaster University and is currently working on her second novel, Nnambi. Jennifer was the winner of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
Leila Aboulela is a Sudanese novelist whose novels include The Translator, Minaret and her latest novel Lyrics Alley. Leila was awarded the Caine Prize for African Writing for The Museum included in her short story collection Coloured Lights. BBC Radio has adapted her work extensively and broadcast a number of her plays including The Mystic Life, The Lion of Chechnya and The Insider.
Romesh Gunesekera was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Britain in the early 1970s. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he is the author of eight books of fiction. His novel Reef was short-listed for the 1994 Booker Prize. His new collection of stories set in post-war Sri Lanka, Noontide Toll, was published by Granta in 2014 along with a 20th anniversary edition of his first novel Reef. Romesh is the Chair of the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.