Human beings have been telling stories for thousands of years, but what actually makes for a good story? Authors have been trying to settle on the great principles of compelling writing for as long as people have been writing. Yet, as Deepa Anappara and Taymour Soomro argue, something has gone amiss in these manuals on the art of storytelling: they have tended to privilege a Western perspective.
In April 2023 Anappara and Soomro came to Intelligence Squared to talk about their new anthology, Letters to a Writer of Colour, in which they ask us to critically examine the assumptions that shape the way we think fiction should be written. What might fiction look like if we considered alternative ways of constructing narratives that were grounded in the experiences of a person of colour?
Anappara and Soomro were in conversation with two of the contributors to the collection, Sharlene Teo and Leila Aboulela. Together they explored one of the things we all have a primal need for – stories, and lots of different kinds of them.