July 29, 1978 |
|Occupation||writer / broadcaster / critic|
|Alma mater||St Edmund Hall, Oxford|
Bidisha (born Bidisha Bandyopadhyay and now known as Bidisha Shonar Koli Mamata) is a broadcaster and journalist specialising in international affairs, social justice issues, arts and culture and international human rights. She began writing professionally for arts magazines such as i-D, Dazed and Confused and the NME at the age of 14 and published her first novel at 18. She writes for The Guardian and The Huffington Post and works as a TV and radio presenter for the BBC, presenting programmes such as Woman's Hour. She also does outreach work in UK detention centres and prisons, in affiliation with literary and human rights organisation English PEN.
Bidisha was raised by her mother who is a mathematician and physicist turned computer scientist who emigrated from India in 1972. She was educated at the private school Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls and speaks English, French, Spanish, Italian and Bengali. She studied Old and Middle English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford for her first degree and then gained an MSc in Moral and Political Philosophy and Economic History at the London School of Economics.
Bidisha began writing for arts magazines i-D, Oyster, Volume, Dazed and Confused and the NME at 15, after launching a style fanzine at 14 as part of the Riot Grrl movement. In 1995 at the age of 16 Bidisha signed a £15,000 book deal with HarperCollins. Her first novel, Seahorses, was published two years later, during her first year at university. During this time she also had regular opinion columns in The Big Issue magazine, The Daily Telegraph and the Thursday edition of The Independent newspaper. Bidisha's second novel, the thriller Too Fast to Live, was published when she was 21. Her third book, Venetian Masters - a travel memoir - was published in February 2008. She was a contributing editor of the women's literary magazine Sibyl and the style magazine 2nd Generation. She has written for The Guardian, the Financial Times, Mslexia, The Observer, New Statesman and arts magazine The List. She was one of the judges for the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction and was announced as one of the judges of the 2010 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.
Bidisha's writing focuses on the arts and culture, international affairs, social issues and gender, and she describes that writing about these topics "comes naturally". In an article on "casual sexism" she writes, "Apart from outright slander, jibes, names and insults there is: talking down a woman's work, interrupting her, teasing her, mocking her, talking over her, patronising her, sighing or rolling one's eyes when she talks, invading her personal space."
International affairs were the subject of Venetian Masters (2008), which focused on Northern Italy and Beyond the Wall (2012) a work of reportage from Palestine. In 2013 she became a Fellow of the International Reporting Project run by Johns Hopkins University in Washington and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her role is to focus on international development issues as part of a global network of reporters.
In parallel with her writing, Bidisha has developed a career as a radio and TV arts critic and presenter. She is a regular guest on BBC Two's Newsnight Review, The Big Questions and Sunday Morning Live (both BBC Two). For BBC Radio 4 she has contributed regularly to and presented Saturday Review, Front Row Archive on Four, Heart and Soul and Woman's Hour. She was one of the regular presenters of BBC Radio 3's flagship arts programme, Night Waves. On the World Service she was a guest presenter of the books programme The Word and was a regular presenter for The Strand. For Radio 3 and Radio 4 she has presented documentaries on Jung, Iris Murdoch, the role of text in art (in Texting Andy Warhol) and The Countertenor.
- Seahorses (Flamingo, 1997) ISBN 0-00-655030-4
- Too Fast to Live (Duckworth Publishing, 2000) ISBN 0-7156-3008-3
- Venetian Masters (Summersdale Publishers, 2008) ISBN 1-84024-634-0
- Beyond the Wall: Writing A Path Through Palestine (Seagull/Chicago University Press, 2012) ISBN 978-0-8574-20398
- "On the Threshold". tes.co.uk. 2009-10-20. Retrieved 2012-10-18.
- "Bigger the ego, harder the fall". Smh.com.au. 2011-05-21. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- Posted by Bidisha (2011-07-20). "Bidisha: "The opposite to a feminist is an arsehole"". Bidisha-online.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- "BBC Radio 3 biography". Archived from the original on 22 April 2009.
- "Ziptang.com: Interview: Bidisha - Anisha Jhina". Ziptang.velvetbug.com. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- http://www.seh.ox.ac.uk/index.php?section=16 List of famous graduates of St Edmund Hall, Oxford
- 'On the threshold'. Times Educational Supplement 21 March 1997 Retrieved 26 May 2010
- "Bidisha" Retrieved 26 July 2010
- Bidisha. "Bring me sunshine - Gilbert and George at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art - A look at the history of the art duo". Edinburghfestival.list.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- "Book Trade Announcements - Judges Announced For The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize 2010". booktrade.info. 2010-07-02. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- "The comeback kid: Whatever happened to fiesty, mono-monikered teenage author Bidisha?" The Independent 2March 2008 Retrieved 25 July 2010
- "Woman's Hour 26-07-2010" BBC.CO.UK Retrieved 25 July 2010
- "Bidisha" BBC Profile 28 April 2006 26 July 2010
- Bidisha Official web site
- Column archive at The Guardian
- Column archive at the New Statesman
- Works by or about Bidisha in libraries (WorldCat catalog)