SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Multilingual London

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Date: 28 November 2020Time: 2:00 PM

Finishes: 28 November 2020Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Virtual Webinar

SOAS, University of London in partnership with the Museum of London

A one-day online festival showcasing London’s multilingual literary talent

Book your FREE tickets today!

Come and celebrate the languages of London through the works of our city’s writers!

London is home to over 300 languages and we can hear and see this expressed through stories, poetry, songs and books.

The Multilingual London festival will showcase the vibrant mix of languages London-based writers use to weave real and imagined worlds.

Join us for a day of performances, artistic interventions, panel discussions and writers’ talks.


2:00 Welcome: Francesca Orsini (Mulosige/SOAS) & Sarita Mamseri (Museum of London)

2:05-2:50 Session 1: Families, histories, languages: Aida Eidemariam and Shazaf Fatima Haider in conversation with Vayu Naidu

Aida Edemariam and Shazaf Fatima Haider write in English, but the families they write about live in other language worlds: the Ethiopian grandmother Edemariam writes about in her acclaimed The Wife’s Tale (2018), speaks Amharic, the Karachi matriarch of Shazaf Fatima Haider’s How it Happened (2012) Urdu. Languages in families can set up barriers or create secret idioms. How do they negotiate other language worlds in their writing? Vayu Naidu is a storyteller and writer whose work (The Sari of Surya Vilas, 2017) also crosses language worlds.

3:15-4.45 Session 2: My languages, my London: with Aamer Hussein and Selma Dabbagh in conversation with Wen Chin Ouyang and Francesca Orsini

Pakistani-British writer Aamer Hussein (The Cloud Messenger, 2010; Love & its Seasons, 2017) rediscovered Urdu literature in London. British-Palestinian Selma Dabbagh (Out of It, 2011) writes on the contemporary Middle East. How is their London shot through with other languages and other places? How much space is there in literary London for literatures in other languages, and do they intersect? 

5.15-6.30 Session 3: Verses in many Voices: poetry performances by Jennifer Wong (English), Shephali Frost (Hindi), Mustafa Abu Sneineh (Arabic), Exiled Ink poets Fatima Hagi (English), Nada Menzalji (Arabic), Alemu Tebeje Ayele (Amharic); and Caasha Luul Mohamud (Somali): host Malika Booker 

London is home to poets writing in English but also in a myriad other tongues. In this exciting session, hosted by spoken word artist Malika Booker and including three poets from Exiled Inc, we will hear a rich array of poetic voices, from Arabic to Hindi, from Amharic to Somali… and English too.

Please address all enquiries to; you can also register on the MULOSIGE website.


Multilingual London is a collaboration between SOAS University of London and the Museum of London and is part of the ‘Multilingual locals, significant geographies: a new approach to world literature’ project. This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 670876)

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