Dr Nazneen Pathak
Lecturer in Creative Writing (Education and Research)
I am a middle-grade novelist who writes historically-based adventure stories which weave together fantasy elements, specifically, South Asian traditions of magic, with the real, lived history of colonialism and migration. After being selected as one of 12 mentees from over 2000 applicants for Penguin’s inaugural Write Now mentorship programme in 2017, I have been working with a series of editors at Penguin on developing my middle-grade children’s novel.
My debut middle grade novel City of Stolen Magic was acquired by Puffin Books as part of a two-book deal in 2021 and will be published on 1st June 2023. City of Stolen Magic is described by editorial director at Puffin, Natalie Doherty, as “brilliantly immersive and evocative, a truly page-turning adventure starring a gorgeously strong-willed new heroine, and it shines an unflinching light on real colonial history that I’ve seen in very few books for children. We’re so proud to publish this book and to introduce Nazneen and Chompa to readers.”
In addition to my novel, my poetry and fiction has been published in a range of recognised journals and anthologies, including Puffin’s 80th anniversary anthology The Puffin Book of Big Dreams. I have recently been appointed as Hampshire Poet Laureate.
I teach across the Creative Writing BA and MA curriculum in Creative Writing, Publishing and World Literature and Postcolonial Studies.
Students can book a tutorial with me during my office hours via this link:
My research has evolved from an examination of Bangladeshi nation identity through literary cultures in my DPhil at Oxford, to a focus on the relationship between creativity and religion and the history of Muslim communities in East and West London (Oxford and UCL), to a present focus on anti-racism, belonging and creativity.
Throughout my research career, I have focused on issues of agency, power, and representation via a postcolonial theoretical lens, which I apply in my creative writing and research by working with archival material and writing into the gaps in the historical record. Rewriting Spivak, I believe that we can make the gaps in the historic record speak through creative writing, oral history, and a focus on material culture.
My research is now focusing on historical children’s literature and the representation of empire and colonialism. As part of this work, I recently ran a panel on “Decolonising Historical Kidslit” at the Bookseller Children’s Conference in September 2022. This panel, which will be chaired by me, featured established authors Sufiya Ahmed, Sita Brahmachari and Joanna Brown, who have all written historically-set children’s novels featuring racially minoritised characters.
External impact and engagement
During my five-year freelance career I ran a range of creative engagement projects, including the Arts Council England-funded project Mayflower Folk, Southampton Stories, which I produced with my colleague Susmita Bhattacharya. With Susmita Bhattacharya and academic Aiysha Jahan, I also led our British Council-funded project Write Beyond Borders, taking responsibility for funding, finance, project design and evaluation, while my colleagues focused on delivery, mentor and mentee support, communications, and marketing. Working collaboratively to our respective strengths, we created a project that has had a transformative effect on the ten emerging South Asian writers we have supported.