Kololo Hill: ‘A novel about home, about belonging and exile; a compelling and complex insight into a recent past that still resonates.’ – Irish Times
In 1972 all Ugandan Asians were ordered to leave the country in ninety days. They must take only what they can carry, give up their money and never return. Neema Shah’s extraordinarily moving debut explores what it means to leave your home behind, what it takes to start again, and the lengths some will go to protect their loved ones. Neema is joined by Davina Quinlivan, a UK-based writer and academic who is writing a memoir, Shalimar, about her post-colonial South-East Asian heritage and moving to rural England following her father’s death.
Neema Shah will be chatting about her powerful debut novel. Set in Uganda in 1972, this extraordinarily moving story tells of one family’s escape, when Amin forces them to leave. It is a story of loss and separation, but ultimately of hope. A devastating decree is issued: all Ugandan Asians must leave the country in ninety days. They must take only what they can carry, give up their money and never return. For Asha and Pran, married a matter of months, it means abandoning the family business Pran has worked so hard to save. For his mother, Jaya, it means saying goodbye to the house that has been her home for decades. But violence is escalating in Kampala, and people are disappearing. Will they all make it to safety in Britain and will they be given refuge if they do? And all the while, a terrible secret about the expulsion hangs over them, threatening to tear the family apart.
Neema Shah’s parents and grandparents left India to make their homes in East Africa and later in London, where Neema was born and lives. Kololo Hill is her debut and was shortlisted for the Bath Novel Award and the First Novel Prize.
Shalimar: A Memoir of Place and Migration is the poetic and deeply personal conjuring of a lost family, like a spellbound ship, a story of loss and, eventually, empowerment. Spanning ten years of her life, perhaps, the most formative, while raising a family and teaching, Davina Quinlivan weaves her own form of nature-writing, magic realism and memoir; it is an incantation, a ship, a house, a book, carrying her family safe inside, including her father who died from cancer when she was in her late twenties. Now, a mother and with a family of her own, she greets the Green Man and Shakespeare’s Sycorax, as well as Burmese monks and Tibetan horses, her grandmothers and aunts who play cards and speak in Hindi and Burmese, as she makes six moves across Deep England. The book is dedicated to the voiceless, exiled, or still in the process of migration, however minor or major in scale.
Davina Quinlivan is a writer, academic and filmmaker. Her writing may be best described as a poetic investigation into place, nature, grief and her ancestral, Anglo-Burmese, European and Indian identity, Shalimar (Little Toller Press, forthcoming). Her short film which draws on some of the ideas of the book was recently selected by Cinesisters South West for a special screening at The Phoenix, Exeter. Davina holds a PhD in Film and Philosophy from King’s College London and is a Senior Lecturer in Film at Kingston School of Art, Kingston University. Her work has featured as part of programmed, public events at The Wallace Museum, The Serpentine Gallery, The Tavistock Clinic London; she has also worked with Raising Films, Birds Eye View (Reclaim the Frame), The National Gallery and the British Film Institute. She is currently resident at The Freud Museum and teaches regular classes on subjects such as psychogeography, the child’s gaze and the female gaze. She recently curated a digital course for The Wallace Museum entitled ‘Curating the Cinematic City: Venice and the Moving Image’ (2021).Her journalism has featured in The Times Higher Education culture section, Another Mag, Dazed Digital(including an interview with Barbara Hammer), Sight and Sound, Arty, Garageland and Little White Lies.