Arts section writer
Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya is a graduate of English literature at UEA and a lifelong (aspiring) writer. Her interests include UK and Indian politics, questions of race, intersectional and Marxist feminism and literature by marginalised writers. She also enjoys song-writing with her guitar, playing open mics around Norwich and snacking too often. She tweets @AnanyaWilson.
(28.08.19) – Leila Review
In the wake of the recent lockdown in Kashmir, the region long contested between India, Pakistan and its own people, in which communication has been drastically halted and public gatherings banned, Indian politics has found its way into international headlines. But the situation in Kashmir is just one aspect of a much broader, increasingly fascist regime run by a Hindu-supremacist, far-right government. Over the past five years under this regime, Muslims have been lynched by government-affiliated mobs for alleged beef consumption; persecution – and murder – of Dalits (members of the lowest castes) through similar means has soared; journalists have been assassinated for trying to tell the truth. This is why Deepa Mehta’s Netflix drama series Leila provides a timely and disturbing picture of a future India, situated only decades from now in 2047. Unlike many dystopian dramas, Leila is not set in a post-apocalyptic or reorganised world which encodes real socio-political dynamics within imaginary ones. Instead, it neatly locates contemporary Indian landmarks and structural oppressions within the complex fabric of a dystopian future state: Aryavarta, a set of strictly segregated communities governed by fully-fledged totalitarianism.
If you’re passing through Brixton Market, exploring the vintage clothing stalls or lamenting the overpriced pints designed to rip off tourists, it’s easy to miss the Brixton Recreation Centre, tucked away and accessible only by a remote entrance. But this abandoned-looking building is in fact one of two homes of a fascinating local photography exhibition. The Lost Legacies of The British Black Panthers provides a vital insight into the anti-racist activism of the Windrush generation which is often overlooked in our understanding of twentieth-century British history.
(30.07.19) – Review: Darling, It’s Me by Alison Winch
I was eager to get my hands on a copy of Alison Winch’s debut poetry collection, Darling, It’s Me. With ‘fiercely feminist’ poems on the themes of motherhood and marriage, I was expecting rich, analysable material and I undoubtedly found it. Winch intersperses her narrative of contemporary women’s experiences with a series of extended metaphors rooted in Enlightenment philosophies and the European societies where these were developed, occasionally shifting form to witty sketches involving philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
tw: mentions of suicide
In recent years, the indie-rock revival has gained traction across the UK, spurning artists such as Circa Waves, The Magic Gang, Sea Girls and countless other bands and solo artists with catchy, accessible lyrics and melodies against guitar-heavy backgrounds. I will fully admit to being an indie fan at heart; these artists generally make up a large proportion of my ‘heavy rotation’ on Spotify at any given moment. But the genre can’t always be credited with much lyrical originality, or indeed, with much engagement with the world beyond the singers’ own personal dilemmas and often relentless self-deprecation.
Since the Norwich poetry scene largely consists of current or former students and local writers, a chef originating from Cairo doesn’t seem to fit the mould. But Salah El Nagar has achieved local fame, both for his widely translated Arabic poems, and for his cooking. By day, he runs Ramses Egyptian Food, usually located in the market in the heart of Norwich city centre (he also runs pop-up stalls at venues around the city). By evening, you can find him at the Birdcage, promoting acceptance, diversity, and gender equality through his poignant and witty poems.