MFest Expert Advisory Group

MFest has an Expert Advisory Group the help, guide and champion our work. The group comprises of talented people from the arts and literature worlds with diverse backgrounds.

 

Ayan Mahamoud

Managing Director of Kayd Somali Art and Youth Entertainment

Ayan Mahamoud is founder and the managing director of Kayd Somali Arts and Culture, which has organised the annual Somali Week Festival in London since 2009. Somali Week draws some of the most prominent Somali artists from across the region and the diaspora. Mahamoud is co-organiser of the Hargeysa International Book Festival (HIBF), currently the biggest arts festival in East Africa, and co-founder of the Hargeysa Cultural Centre, one of the first cultural institutions to emerge in Somaliland after the civil war. Through her work Mahamoud is conscious of providing a space to those underrepresented in the arts, particularly women...Read more

Ayan Mahamoud is founder and the managing director of Kayd Somali Arts and Culture, which has organised the annual Somali Week Festival in London since 2009. Somali Week draws some of the most prominent Somali artists from across the region and the diaspora.

Mahamoud is co-organiser of the Hargeysa International Book Festival (HIBF), currently the biggest arts festival in East Africa, and co-founder of the Hargeysa Cultural Centre, one of the first cultural institutions to emerge in Somaliland after the civil war. Through her work Mahamoud is conscious of providing a space to those underrepresented in the arts, particularly women and young people, and that was the motivation behind Women of the World (WOW) Hargeysa.  In 2015, Ayan was listed by the Financial Times as one of 25 Africans to watch. In the same year, Ayan was awarded an MBE for services to promoting friendship and cultural understanding between the UK and Somali Region. In December 2016 Ayan was appointed by Somaliland president as the head of Somaliland mission to the UK

Close

Ayisha Malik

Author

Ayisha Malik is a British Muslim born and raised in South London. She holds a BA in English Literature and Sociology and a First Class, MA in Creative Writing. She worked at Penguin Random House before moving to Cornerstones where she was managing editor for five years. Her debut novel was Sofia Khan is Not Obliged (Twenty7), followed by the sequel, The Other Half of Happiness (Zaffre), which were met with great critical acclaim, and she was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick in 2016. Ayisha is now a full-time writer and is working on her third novel, as well...Read more

Ayisha Malik is a British Muslim born and raised in South London. She holds a BA in English Literature and Sociology and a First Class, MA in Creative Writing. She worked at Penguin Random House before moving to Cornerstones where she was managing editor for five years. Her debut novel was Sofia Khan is Not Obliged (Twenty7), followed by the sequel, The Other Half of Happiness (Zaffre), which were met with great critical acclaim, and she was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick in 2016. Ayisha is now a full-time writer and is working on her third novel, as well as being the ghost writer for Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain.

Close

Boyd Tonkin

Author

Boyd Tonkin is a writer, journalist and critic who chaired the judging panel of the Man Booker International Prize in 2016 – the English-speaking world’s premier award for translated fiction. He is now Special Adviser to the Man Booker International Prize. He writes for The Economist, the Financial Times, The Observer, The Spectator, New Scientist and Newsweek magazine, and contributes to BBC radio. He was Senior Writer and Art Critic of The Independent, and before that served as the newspaper’s Literary Editor. He re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2001, co-judging it until 2015, when it merged with...Read more

Boyd Tonkin is a writer, journalist and critic who chaired the judging panel of the Man Booker International Prize in 2016 – the English-speaking world’s premier award for translated fiction. He is now Special Adviser to the Man Booker International Prize. He writes for The Economist, the Financial Times, The Observer, The Spectator, New Scientist and Newsweek magazine, and contributes to BBC radio. He was Senior Writer and Art Critic of The Independent, and before that served as the newspaper’s Literary Editor. He re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2001, co-judging it until 2015, when it merged with the Man Booker International Prize.

Close

Dr Nur Sobers Khan

Lead Curator for South Asia and Urdu Collections at the British Library

Dr Nur Sobers-Khan is the Lead Curator for South Asia Collections at the British Library, London.  She is the principle investigator for the AHRC/Newton-Bhabha funded digitisation project, ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print 1713-1914.’ Previously she has worked as a curator at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, where she curated the exhibition, ‘Building Our Collection: Mughal and Safavid Albums’ and co-curated, ‘Qajar Women: Images of Women in 19th-century Iran’, and was previously the Iran Heritage Curator for Persian manuscripts at the British Library (2012-2013), where she was engaged in creating a digital reference tool for the British...Read more

Dr Nur Sobers-Khan is the Lead Curator for South Asia Collections at the British Library, London.  She is the principle investigator for the AHRC/Newton-Bhabha funded digitisation project, ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print 1713-1914.’ Previously she has worked as a curator at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, where she curated the exhibition, ‘Building Our Collection: Mughal and Safavid Albums’ and co-curated, ‘Qajar Women: Images of Women in 19th-century Iran’, and was previously the Iran Heritage Curator for Persian manuscripts at the British Library (2012-2013), where she was engaged in creating a digital reference tool for the British Library’s Persian manuscripts.  Nur completed a PhD in Islamic History in 2012 at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University Cambridge, having previously completing a BA in Oriental Studies (Arabic and Persian) at the same institution in 2006.

Close

Eleanor O’Keeffe

Former director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and co-founder of the Palestine Festival of Literature.

Eleanor O’Keeffe is the founder-director of 5×15, a cultural events company based in London that operates in New York, Paris, Milan and Sydney. Before moving to London, she was co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival from 2006-08 as well as co-director of the Shakespeare and Company Festival in Paris from 2004-06. In 2007, she was one of the founders of the Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest). She was a judge of the DSC Literature Prize in 2012 and she sits on the Board of contemporary dance company, Rambert.

Elif Shafak

Author

Elif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read female writer in Turkey. She is also a political commentator and an inspirational public speaker. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 15 books, 10 of which are novels, including the bestselling The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love and her most recent, Three Daughters of Eve. Her books have been published in 48 languages. She is published by Penguin in the UK and represented by Curtis Brown globally. Elif has an academic background and has taught at various universities in Turkey, UK and USA....Read more

Elif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read female writer in Turkey. She is also a political commentator and an inspirational public speaker.

She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 15 books, 10 of which are novels, including the bestselling The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love and her most recent, Three Daughters of Eve. Her books have been published in 48 languages. She is published by Penguin in the UK and represented by Curtis Brown globally.

Elif has an academic background and has taught at various universities in Turkey, UK and USA. She holds a degree in International Relations, a MA in Gender and Women’s Studies and a PhD in Political Science. She is known as a women’s rights, minority rights and LGBT rights advocate.

Close

Fiona McMorrough

Founder and CEO of FMCM Associates

With over 25 years’ experience in UK publishing, Fiona is considered one of the leading sector publicists in the UK. She has worked with major authors, public figures and literacy organisations worldwide, has been on the Boards of Publishers and literary charities and has played a strategic role in the conception and launch of high profile industry initiatives. Amongst numerous awards during her career, Fiona has been named in The Bookseller’s 100 Most Influential 2014, 2015 and 2016, GQ’s Most Connected Women 2014, named in Debretts People of Today and the inaugural Hospital Award for Creative Contribution to Books....Read more

With over 25 years’ experience in UK publishing, Fiona is considered one of the leading sector publicists in the UK. She has worked with major authors, public figures and literacy organisations worldwide, has been on the Boards of Publishers and literary charities and has played a strategic role in the conception and launch of high profile industry initiatives. Amongst numerous awards during her career, Fiona has been named in The Bookseller’s 100 Most Influential 2014, 2015 and 2016, GQ’s Most Connected Women 2014, named in Debretts People of Today and the inaugural Hospital Award for Creative Contribution to Books.  Fiona hails from Dublin where she graduated with a Masters in English Literature, UCD.

Close

James Runcie

Author

James Runcie is a writer, director and literary curator. He is the author of The Grantchester Mysteries, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Visiting Professor at Bath Spa University, and the Commissioning Editor for Arts at BBC Radio 4

Lucy Silver

Co-chair and director of Jewish Book Week

Lucy Silver was born in Glasgow, studied literature, philosophy, art history and psychology, trained as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, and counselled university students. She joined the Jewish Book Week team in 2008, has been Co Chair since 2011, and took over festival directorship in 2014.

Lynn Gaspard

Managing Director and Publisher of Saqi Books

Lynn Gaspard is the Managing Director and Publisher of Middle-East specialist press Saqi Books. A fiercely independent forum for writers and artists from around the world, Saqi has made its mark as a publisher unafraid of taking risks, publishing banned works by novelists and political dissidents, and championing works by feminist and other minority writers from the Middle East and beyond. Building on Saqi’s reputation for making available progressive works, Gaspard has published books presenting a nuanced perspective of the region’s political and cultural heritages, such as the critically acclaimed Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, Desert...Read more

Lynn Gaspard is the Managing Director and Publisher of Middle-East specialist press Saqi Books. A fiercely independent forum for writers and artists from around the world, Saqi has made its mark as a publisher unafraid of taking risks, publishing banned works by novelists and political dissidents, and championing works by feminist and other minority writers from the Middle East and beyond. Building on Saqi’s reputation for making available progressive works, Gaspard has published books presenting a nuanced perspective of the region’s political and cultural heritages, such as the critically acclaimed Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, Desert Songs of the Night: 1500 Years of Arabic Literature and The Things I would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write. Shortlisted for the 2013 Independent Publishers Guild Young Publisher of the Year Award, Gaspard is the editor of the satirical collection, Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic: Words and Pictures on How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Alien Next Door, commissioned in response to Trump’s travel ban. Gaspard is a trustee of the Shubbak Festival in London and sits on the English PEN Writers in Translation Committee. She previously sat on the Nour Festival of Arts Steering Committee for four years.

Close

Sameer Rahim

Managing Editor of Prospect Magazine

Sameer Rahim is Managing Editor of Prospect Magazine, and a regular reviewer for the national papers. His essay on the issues surrounding Islam’s origins, ‘The Shadow of the Scroll’, was one of the winners of the William Hazlitt, Notting Hill Prize in 2013

Sarah Shaffi

Co-founder of BAME in Publishing

Sarah Shaffi is the former online editor and producer at The Bookseller, the UK publishing industry’s trade magazine. In 2016, she co-founded networking group BAME in Publishing, a regular meet up for people from ethnic minorities working in UK publishing. Sarah is now editor-at-large at Litte Tiger, reviews books for Stylist Magazine online and regularly chairs author events. She can be found tweeting @sarahshaffi.

Tom Ryan

Programming Director at Henley Literary Festival

Tom Ryan has been programming director of Henley Literary Festival since 2013. The Festival has featured a wide range of speakers including Roddy Doyle, Doreen Lawrence, Graham Nash, Judith Kerr and John Sentamu. He also programmes the Kenton Theatre, the fourth-oldest working theatre in the UK and has previously worked for the London Press Club, Reading Year of Culture and DMGT.

Yasmin Alibhai-brown

Journalist and author

Yasmin Alibhai-brown is a journalist and cultural commentator who has written for The Guardian, Observer, The New York Times, Time Magazine,  Newsweek, The Evening Standard,  The Mail   and other newspapers and was a weekly columnist on The Independent for eighteen years. She is also a respected pundit, radio and television broadcaster and appears on key political and cultural programmes. Currently, she is a weekly columnist at the International Business Times, The New European and I newspaper. She has authored several books including No Place Like Home, True Colours, Who Do We Think We Are?, After Multiclturalism, Mixed Feelings and...Read more

Yasmin Alibhai-brown is a journalist and cultural commentator who has written for The Guardian, Observer, The New York Times, Time Magazine,  Newsweek, The Evening Standard,  The Mail   and other newspapers and was a weekly columnist on The Independent for eighteen years. She is also a respected pundit, radio and television broadcaster and appears on key political and cultural programmes. Currently, she is a weekly columnist at the International Business Times, The New European and I newspaper. She has authored several books including No Place Like Home, True Colours, Who Do We Think We Are?, After Multiclturalism, Mixed Feelings and a food memoir on East African Asians called The Settler’s Cookbook.

Close

Ziauddin Sardar

Ziauddin Sardar, writer and cultural critic, is Editor of the quarterly Critical Muslim.  Former Professor of Law and Society at Middlesex University, and columnist on New statesman, he is the author of over fifty books, including the international bestseller Why Do People Hate America? and two volumes of highly acclaimed autobiography, Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of a Sceptical Muslim and Balti Britain: A Provocative Journey Through Asian Britain. A collection of his writings is available as Islam, Postmodernism and Other Futures: A Ziauddin Sardar Reader (2003) and How Do You Know? Reading Ziauddin Sardar on Islam, Science and Cultural...Read more

Ziauddin Sardar, writer and cultural critic, is Editor of the quarterly Critical Muslim.  Former Professor of Law and Society at Middlesex University, and columnist on New statesman, he is the author of over fifty books, including the international bestseller Why Do People Hate America? and two volumes of highly acclaimed autobiography, Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of a Sceptical Muslim and Balti Britain: A Provocative Journey Through Asian Britain. A collection of his writings is available as Islam, Postmodernism and Other Futures: A Ziauddin Sardar Reader (2003) and How Do You Know? Reading Ziauddin Sardar on Islam, Science and Cultural Relations (2006).  His latest books are Reading the Qur’an and Mecca: The Sacred City. Professor Sardar is Director of Centre for Postnormal Policy and Futures Studies.

Close