Meet the author: Sheena Patel

Tue 07.05.2024
20:00 - 21:30
Sheena Patel copyright Salam Zaied LR


meet the author


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in english

Meet the author

The meetings with writers at Passa Porta, prepared with passion, courage and thoroughness, are more than simply the presentation of literary works. We seek to achieve a genuine connection between writer and reader, and among readers themselves.

Go to overview

Sheena Patel’s debut novel – ‘a fast, fizzing cherry bomb of a debut’, according to The Observer – is about desire and obsession and is packed with sharp observations on gender, race, class and privilege. These are also important themes for fellow writer and TV presenter Yassmin Abdel-Magied, who will be writer in residence at Passa Porta in May. The conversation between the two promises to be a lively exchange.

Sheena Patel was already making a name for herself as one of 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE, a collective of talented young writers, when her debut novel I’m A Fan thrust her into the limelight. It made the shortlist of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Jhalak Prize, the longlist of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and it was voted Discover Book of the Year at the British Book Awards 2023.

The nameless protagonist of I’m A Fan is a young woman who spends a lot of her time on social media, where she closely follows every post and like of ‘the man I want to be with’, an older artist with whom she has an undefined and unequal relationship. And then there is ‘the woman I am obsessed with’, a glamorous influencer who is having an affair with the artist. The protagonist herself has a devoted lover whom she neglects. The connection between all these relationships is that each is completely unbalanced and disruptive in its own way.

In short chapters that are fired at the reader like bullets, we are drawn into the logic of an obsessive woman who is well aware of everything that is skewed in the relationships she has or longs for, but who just can’t let go of them. She knows it is an impossible dream, but she can’t stop pursuing her perfect, dust-free, shiny, instaproof dreamworld in which she is the centre of adoration and the epitome of sophistication. The many trenchant insights about social media, race, gender and privilege she dishes out make her an ambiguous heroine who is both prey and predator.

The Guardian called Sheena Patel’s debut brilliant, The Observer addictive, The Washington Post compelling. There is no doubt that the conversation she will have with Yassmin Abdel-Magied will make for an exciting evening.

about the author

Sheena Patel is a writer and film director, born and raised in North West London. She is part of the collective 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE, with whom she published her first work. She made her debut as a novelist with I’m A Fan. In 2022 she was chosen as one of the ten best debut novelists by The Observer.

about the interviewer

Yassmin Abdel-Magied was born in Sudan and grew up in Australia. She worked as an engineer on oil and gas platforms in Australia for nearly half a decade before becoming a full-time writer and broadcaster. She has written books, presented TV programmes, made documentaries and founded businesses. She has given keynotes on unconscious bias and leadership in more than twenty countries. Her TED talk, What Does My Headscarf Mean to You?, has been viewed more than two million times. She lives in London.

Org. Passa Porta

Pictures Sheena Patel © Salam Zaied, Yasminn Abdel-Magied © Leanne Dixon

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