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We're pleased to announce the shortlist for the Big Read 2021. The shortlist, which is drawn from books recommended by students and staff, is comprised of a range of titles from UK publishers and includes a variety of genres – from fantasy and detective fiction to autobiography and science.
Each new undergraduate and postgraduate student starting at Kingston University in September 2021 will receive a free copy of a this year's special edition Kingston University Big Read title over the summer, in time for the start of their course.
Sampath Chawla is a bored post office clerk looking for more out of life until one day he decides he'll quit his job and move into a guava tree. Hilarious and moving, his characters bring the story to life. From the mundane world of the 9-5 to the life of an oracle bestowing advice on his neighbours, Sampath teaches us what it means to live.
Faber and Faber
Kiran Desai is an Indian-American author who has lived in India, England, Mexico and the United States where she attended Columbia University. She became the youngest female writer to win the Booker Prize in 2007 for her second novel The Inheritance of Loss.
Inspector Ashwin Chopra is a man of great integrity. So when he learns of the murder of a young boy on the day of his retirement, he knows what must be done. With the help of the baby elephant he has inherited from his late uncle, he will travel to both the seedy and opulent areas of Mumbai to find the boy's killer. Full of humorous and warm characters, this novel will fill your senses with its rich descriptions.
Detective Fiction series
Vaseem Khan is a British author known for his Baby Ganesh Detective Agency Series. Inspired by the decade he spent living in India, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra is his debut novel followed by The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown (2016), The Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star (2017), Murder at the Grand Raj Palace (2018) and Bad Day at the Vulture Club (2019).
In his memoir, Sarfraz Manzoor reflects on his childhood in Bury Park, Luton, the death of his father, and his love of Bruce Springsteen and the United States. Manzoor traces his life from his family's move to Luton from Pakistan at two years old through to his adulthood. Full of beautiful memories and hilarious familial moments as well as tragedy and strife, this novel is a culmination of his experiences of growing up as a British Muslim and the lessons he has learned from both his father and Bruce Springsteen.
Sarfraz Manzoor is an author, screenwriter, documentary maker and journalist. The film adaptation of Blinded by the Light came out in 2019 and is available on Netflix. He also wrote and presented a documentary for BBC2 called Luton Actually in 2005 which focuses on the area he grew up in and interviews some of his family members.
Nnenna Maloney is turning seventeen this year and yet she is still missing half of herself. But, to find out more about her Igbo-Nigerian father, Maurice, she must go through her white mother, Joanie, whose lips are sealed. The novel is witty and hilarious, highlighting life at various stages and challenging the status quo and focuses on themes of race, sexuality, gender, religion, identity and coming of age.
Okechukwu Nzelu is a Manchester-based author and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney is his debut novel and the winner of a Betty Trask Award. He is currently writing a second novel which is expected to come out in spring of 2022.
Dr Camilla Pang was eight years old when she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Growing up she felt like an outsider to humanity and often wondered if there was an instruction manual for humans. Now an adult with a PhD in biochemistry, Pang has written just that: a guide for humans to understand our own social norms from a neurodivergent perspective. Explaining Humans is a captivating journey in learning how to live a happier and fuller life.
Social Psychology, Biological Science, Memoir
Dr. Camilla Pang is a British writer, autism advocate and computational biologist. In 2020 she was awarded the Royal Society Insight investment award for her debut novel Explaining Humans.
Lyfe on Nyx is the opportunity Iris has been waiting for: the programme that will take her to a new planet. Sick of her meaningless job, empty relationships and haunted by a smog that eats away at her happiness, she is ready to let go and never come back. This brilliant and clever novel questions our attachment to social media and the feelings of inadequacy and boredom that have developed in the modern world.
Penguin Random House UK – Viking
Dystopian, Science Fiction
Luiza Sauma is a London-based author and journalist. She was born in Rio de Janeiro and grew up in London, where she studied for an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths. She has another novel, Flesh and Bone and Water published in 2017.