Priya Basil

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Priya Basil
Photo of Priya Basil, 2012 cropped 1.jpg
Basil at a reading in Berlin, August 2012
Born (1977-03-27) 27 March 1977 (age 38)
London, United Kingdom
Occupation Novelist
Nationality British
Period 2007–present
Literary movement Realism

Priya Basil (born 1977 in London, England) is a British author.

Her first novel, Ishq and Mushq, was published in 2007.[1] Ishq and Mushq is a family saga which illuminates the problem of cultural identity for immigrants over several generations, and raises questions of memory, exile and self-rediscovery. Ishq and Mushq came second in the World Book Day "Book to Talk About 2008"[2] competition. The novel was also short-listed for a Commonwealth Writers' Prize,[3] and long-listed for the Dylan Thomas Prize[4] and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.[5] Ishq and Mushq was translated into Dutch,[6] Portuguese,[7] Russian,[8] and Serbian.[9] Ishq and Mushq was also translated into Italian: Profumo Di Spezie Proibite [10]

Her second novel, The Obscure Logic of the Heart,[11] was published in June 2010. The Obscure Logic of the Heart expands the theme of immigration. It tells the love story between the Muslim Lina and the liberal Kenyan architecture student, Anil. Both are second-generation immigrants living in London. Due to their different backgrounds, Lina's relationship is in stark opposition to her parents' wishes, forcing her to make a choice between her family and her great love. The characters are positioned in the maelstrom of socio-political problems. The Obscure Logic of the Heart was translated into Italian Il dio degli amori impossibili[10] and into German, Die Logik des Herzens,[12] and is currently being translated into Croatian.[13]

Priya's short novel Strangers on the 16:02 is published on 17 February 2011 as a Quick Read.[14] It's a hot crowded train. Helen and Kerm are jammed together in a crowded carriage. Then noisy school kids fill the train—and three of them are about to cause a whole heap of trouble. Catching a train? Read Strangers on the 16.02 and you will never feel the same way about your fellow passengers again. Strangers on the 16:02 is currently being translated into Croatian[13] and Italian.[10]

The Quick Reads Initiative publishes once a year a series of 10 short books by best-selling authors and celebrities. With no more than 128 pages, they are designed to encourage adults who do not read or find reading tough to discover the joy of books. They were launched in the UK and Ireland by the then Prime Minister Tony Blair on World Book Day 2006. Since then, over 60 titles have been published, over 3 million copies have been sold and 2 million copies have been loaned through libraries.

Personal life[edit]

Priya grew up in Kenya, returning to the UK to study English Literature at the University of Bristol. She had a career in advertising before becoming a full time writer.[15] In 2010 Priya, and the journalist Matthias Fredrich-Auf der Horst, initiated Authors for Peace.[16] It is intended to be a platform from which writers can actively use literature in different ways to promote peace. The first event by Authors for Peace took place on 21 September 2010, the UN's International Day of Peace. With the support of the International Literature Festival Berlin,[17] Priya hosted a 24hour-live-online-reading by 80 authors[18] from all over the world. The authors read from their work in a gesture of solidarity with those who are oppressed or caught in conflict. BücherFrauen,[19] a co-operation of 800 Women involved in the German Publishing Industry, put forward a list of female candidates for the prestigious Peace Prize of the German Book Trade 2013. Priya Basil is one of the 22 recommended writers on a list which includes Hannah Arendt, Arundhati Roy, Nawal El Saadawi, Herta Müller and Juli Zeh. In September 2013, Basil signed the German novelist Juli Zeh's Open Letter to Angela Merkel.[20] The letter criticises Merkel's poor reaction to the Snowden revelations and demands a more robust response. Priya Basil read this letter aloud in public on the opening day of the International Literature Festival Berlin, as part of the festival's 'Berlin Liest' (Berlin Reads) initiative. Later, she helped organise and took part in the anti-surveillance protest action 'March on the Chancellory', led by Zeh on 18 September 2013.[21] Basil is one of the initiators of 'Writers Against Mass Surveillance',[22] a worldwide movement against mass surveillance that was launched on 10 December 2013. Basil is one of the group of seven international writers who wrote the appeal, gathered the first 560 signatures from world-famous writers, and organised the global launch of the appeal.[23] The other initiators are Juli Zeh, Ilija Trojanow, Eva Menasse, Janne Teller, Isabel Cole and Josef Haslinger. The appeal was published through exclusive deals with leading newspapers in more than thirty countries worldwide, for example in Germany the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,[24] and is also an online pledge at[25] which the general public can sign. In autumn 2014 the University of Tübingen welcomed Priya Basil and her fellow writers Taiye Selasi, Chika Unigwe and Nii Ayikwei Parkes to this year's Writers' Lectureship.

Priya lives in London and Berlin. Wired called Basil "a British, Kenyan, Indian, German-resident fiction-writer. Priya is another of those contemporary novelists whose life wouldn't do within a novel, because it's simply too implausible".[26]


External links[edit]


  • Priya Basil On Reading and Writing [27]
  • Priya Basil "Heart – Bite"-Quotes The Obscure Logic of the Heart[28]
  • Priya Basil Strangers on the 16:02 – Train Rides 1–12[29]
  • Priya Basil "Literary Bridge" – a virtual Join me on the Bridge[30] event initiated by Priya and Authors for Peace for Women for Women International in honour of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day[31]


  • Brinda Bose on Ishq and Mushq, India Today (26 March 2007) "Spice Route to Soul"[32]
  • James Urquhart on The Obscure Logic of the Heart, Financial Times (8.7.2011): "Basil's novel is subtly played out; passionate and intelligent in scope."[33]
  • Eve Lucas on The Obscure Logic of the Heart, ExBerliner (June 2010): "Basil's maturity as a writer is newly reflected in characters whose emotional, ideological and political lives are closely intertwined-redolent of the complex personalities created by writers such as C.P Snow and Evelyn Waugh... Basil spans a large canvas of well observed and entirely credible third world nepotism against which Lina's work for a better world appears as a cry in the desert. Woven into the bigger picture are many small, luminous threads of conversational snippets, situational snapshots, the humdrum of life lovingly seen and recorded. The micro- and the macrocosm are bound together by all that happens in between and above all, in-between people. The book flows at all levels, but here, for me, is Basil's true strength: her interest in people, her sympathy with them, and the way she brings this to bear on her narratives." [34]
  • Farhana Shaikh on The Obscure Logic of the Heart, The Asian Writer (July 2010): "A brilliant second book and one that makes a stand to address the complex battle and struggle for identity and independence faced by the modern Asian woman."[35]
  • "Romeo, Juliet and Islam" – Tales From The Reading Room-Review of The Obscure Logic of the Heart, August 2010: "I took a bit of a punt on this book as it was outside my usual run of reading, but I absolutely loved it, one of the best reads so far this year. What I admired most was Priya Basil's ability to weave her themes together seamlessly, making the brutality of the world reverberate in distressing ways in the crucible of passionate love between men and women, between parents and children and between good friends. I felt I'd been given an illuminating glimpse into a part of the world about which I knew nothing, and had been caught up in a powerful story that made me think."[36]
  • Brinda Bose on The Obscure Logic of the Heart, India Today (7.8.2010): "…what makes Basil's Obscure Logic stand out from any other everyday heart-wrencher is the maturity with which it recognizes that there are no easy choices or irrefutable answers to dilemmas and confusion about the nature of love and passion. Basil seeks neither solutions nor compromises, and yet she writes a prose that burns and scorches with wry conviction about young love that refuses to say die."[37]


  • Shanghai City Weekend Editor "emilyc"'s Live-Blog on Ishq and Mushq[38]
  • Priya Basil on Pushing the Limit, Chronicles, Crossing Border Festival, The Hague (November 2007)[39]
  • Spotlight Interview, Spotlight Magazine (June 2008)[40]
  • Found in Translation, Essay by Priya Basil, Asia Literary Review, Spring 2008[41]
  • My Home is Our Castle, Essay by Priya Basil, Heat 22, Giramondo Publishing, Sydney, Spring 2010[42]
  • The Asian Writer-Interview on The Obscure Logic of the Heart, July 2010"[43]
  • Losing Their Religion, Essay by Priya Basil, Asia Literary Review, Autumn 2010[44]
  • Forbidden love, Article by Priya Basil, The Guardian, September 2010[45]
  • Interview with Priya Basil by Kerrie Anne, The View From Here, September 2010[46]
  • A brief encounter with the maternal urge, Article by Priya Basil, The Guardian, July 2011[47]
  • Merkel must ensure Germany takes a strong moral stand against NSA spying, Article by Priya Basil, The Guardian, September 2013



  1. ^ [1] Transworld (Publisher)
  2. ^ [2] Book to Talk About 2008
  3. ^ [3] Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2008
  4. ^ [4] Dylan Thomas Award 2008
  5. ^ [5] IMPAC Award 2009
  6. ^ [6] Arena (Publisher)
  7. ^ [7] Nova Fronteira (Publisher)
  8. ^ [8] ACT (Publisher)
  9. ^ [9] Books & Marso (Publisher)
  10. ^ a b c [10] Edizioni Piemme (Publisher)
  11. ^ [11] Transworld (Publisher)
  12. ^ [12] Schöffling & Co. (Publisher)
  13. ^ a b [13] Mozaik / Svijet Knjige (Publisher)
  14. ^ [14] Quick Reads and Transworld (Publisher)
  15. ^ [15] Short Biography (International Literature Festival Berlin)
  16. ^ [16] Authors for Peace
  17. ^ [17] International Literature Festival Berlin
  18. ^ [18] List of Peace Day authors
  19. ^ [19] BücherFrauen
  20. ^ [20] The Guardian, 20 September 2013
  21. ^ [21] "Aufmarsch der Autoren", Die Zeit online, 18 September 2013
  22. ^ [22] 10 December 2013
  23. ^ [23] The Guardian, 11 December 2013
  24. ^ [24] F.A.Z., Demokratie im digitalen Zeitalter, 10 December 2013
  25. ^ [25], A STAND FOR DEMOCRACY IN THE DIGITAL AGE, 10 December 2013
  26. ^ [26] Organizers of the Petition Against Mass Surveillance: Priya Basil, 14 January 2014
  27. ^ [27] PriyaBasilChannel, YouTube, 21 February 2010
  28. ^ [28] PriyaBasilChannel, YouTube, 10 May 2010 etc.
  29. ^ [29] PriyaBasilChannel, YouTube, January 2011
  30. ^ [30] Women for Women International, March 2011
  31. ^ [31] womenforwomenuk, YouTube, March 2011
  32. ^ [32] India Today, 26 March 2007
  33. ^ [33] Financial Times, 8 July 2011
  34. ^ [34] ExBerliner, June 2010
  35. ^ [35] The Asian Writer, July 2010
  36. ^ [36] Tales From The Reading Room, 10 August 2010
  37. ^ [37] India Today, 7 August 2010
  38. ^ [38] Shanghai City Magazine, 8 March 2008
  39. ^ [39] Crossing Border Festival, November 2007
  40. ^ [40] Spotlight Magazine, June 2008
  41. ^ [41] [42] ALR, Spring 2008, No. 7, Page 171-178, Hong Kong
  42. ^ Heat 22, Spring 2010, Sydney
  43. ^ [43] The Asian Writer, July 2010
  44. ^ [44] ALR, Autumn 2010, Vol. 17, Page 131-142, Hong Kong
  45. ^ [45] The Guardian, 11 September 2010
  46. ^ [46] View From Here Magazine, 16 September 2010
  47. ^ [47] The Guardian, 2 July 2011
  48. ^ [48] The Guardian, 16 September 2013