Nadifa Mohamed on turning real-life into fiction and why 'fallow time' is key


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I loved this conversation: Nadifa Mohamed is an award-winning novelist whose most recent book The Fortune Men is a dazzling account of the real-life events surrounding the wrongful imprisonment and execution of a Somali seaman and father, who was the last man to be hanged in Cardiff prison. Set in Tiger Bay in the 1950s and fusing historical reportage and literary fiction, it has just been longlisted for a Booker prize - and quite right too. I loved talking to Nadifa about her unique approach to writing - her first book Black Mamba Boy was similarly inventive: part novel, part account of her father's life in Yemen and his journey to the UK. It was just so interesting to hear about the process of taking real life events - whether from newspapers or her family life - and applying artistic license to turn them into stories, as well as her stop-start approach to writing, the importance of 'fallow time', and adapting her work to opera. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Edited by Chelsey Moore

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