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Man Booker at Birkbeck 2018

Writer and novelist Mohsin Hamid joined Anna Hartnell, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, in conversation about his writing, including the novels Exit West (2017) and The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) – both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

On Tuesday 30 October, nearly two hundred students, staff and alumni welcomed Mohsin Hamid to Birkbeck in the return of the highly popular annual Man Booker event, where a Man Booker Prize nominee comes to Birkbeck to deliver a talk and take part in a question and answer session about their work.

Mohsin Hamid joined Dr Anna Hartnell, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, in a discussion about his novels Exit West (2017) and The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007). The discussion was engaging and wide-ranging, encompassing Mohsin Hamid’s depiction of ‘Dark London’ in Exit West, a retrospective look at The Reluctant Fundamentalist ten years on and the likening of the black doorways that open up to other worlds in his most recent novel to the way ‘those little black rectangles we carry around in our pockets’ obliterate the distance between us. The talk was followed by a lively question and answer session and an impromptu book signing.

Two thousand copies of Exit West were given to students in preparation for the evening, which is held in partnership with the Booker Prize Foundation as part of their university programme. This was the eighth year that Birkbeck has hosted the event, with previous guest authors including Hilary Mantel, Sarah Waters, Alan Hollinghurst and Kazuo Ishiguro, among others.

Speaking about the event, Professor Anthony Bale, Executive Dean of the School of Arts, said: "We are delighted to host the annual Man Booker at Birkbeck event, and it was a real pleasure to welcome Mohsin Hamid.  In conversation with Dr Anna Hartnell, he spoke eloquently and provocatively about the relationship between his writing and the current state of the world, from Lahore to London to San Francisco. It was a captivating conversation and a brilliant opportunity for the Birkbeck community to learn about the writer's craft."

The Man Booker at Birkbeck event is jointly funded by the Booker Prize Foundation and the Schools of Birkbeck College.

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