Brexit and gender are off limits for aspiring authors

When a small US publisher accepted my first book for young adults, ‘Crosstrack’, it wasn’t long before things went pear shaped. The novel follows two teenage athletes, one a middle class American, the other a young Syrian refugee. Apart from cycling ability, they have another thing in common: both are trans.  I’d anticipated a backlash at having the temerity to describe someone outside my own experience, and expected it to involve the Middle Eastern migrant (a la Jeanine Cummings). Yet when my publisher passed the book to a new editor for a final edit, she took exception to some of the views expressed by the other main character, and in

Kazuo Ishiguro is right about cancel culture

When the Kuwaiti authorities banned nearly 1,000 books from the Kuwait International Literature festival including Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, the move was rightly met with outrage from the Western literary community. The press was full of talk about the perils of artistic censorship. That was twelve years ago, but this grand-standing was on display again last year during the Abu Dhabi literature festival. Stephen Fry and Noam Chomsky signed a letter to the United Arab Emirates government, castigating them for ‘promoting a platform for freedom of expression, while keeping behind bars Emirati citizens and residents who shared their own views and opinions.’ What would have struck us as dystopian a decade