Literary Programme 2017

Coffee & Chat with Lara Pawson: Is Non-Fiction the New Fiction?

Coffee & Chat with Lara Pawson: Is Non-Fiction the New Fiction?

Lara Pawson

Bantry House Tearoom

Thu 20 July 2017



Is Non-Fiction the New Fiction? Lara Pawson: This Is the Place to Be

Lara Pawson’s This Is the Place to Be is a fragmentary (anti-)memoir, that started life as a sound installation. It is an experimental work that encompasses feminism, violence, class, race, here and there.

Chosen as Book of the Year 2016 in the New Statesman and BOMB magazine

‘It is elegant, profound, candid, affecting and funny. Taxonomically speaking, though, I have no idea what it is.’ Houman Barekat, Times Literary Supplement

‘Brilliant and uncompromising.’Jonathan Gibbs, The Guardian

‘It’s so compulsive I couldn’t stop reading it, loving almost every line. It’s an act of generosity…  I cannot recommend it more highly. It’s just wonderful.’Neil Griffiths

What makes a life? Lara Pawson’s lucid, sudden and subtle memoir unpicks the spirals of memory, politics, violence, to trace the boundaries and crossing points of gender and race identity.’Joanna Walsh

‘A crushingly honest memoir of war, war correspondence and personal mayhem… Her focus is direct, bleakly honest, and as a result full of hope.’M. John Harrison

‘This Is the Place To Be is principally a moving meditation on whether [the author] can trust her sense of belonging at the time or her sadness afterwards and on whether the violence of war can be separated from a strain of violence that seems more endemic to human life.’ – Lara Feigel, Times Literary Supplement

‘Lara Pawson’s This Is the Place to Be is a stark, compassionate and troubling text that summons a fragmentary autobiography, circling experiences from her growing up in England and her time as a reporter covering civil wars in Angola and Ivory Coast. She deals with big questions through an intimate mosaic of lived experiences – the blank, funny, awful, gentle shards that remain in memory years after events have taken place – returning her again and again to the themes of identity, violence, race, class, sexuality and the everyday lives of people across several continents.’Tim Etchells

Lara Pawson lives in London. For stretches, she has also lived in Abidjan, Accra, Bamako, Johannesburg, Luanda, an auberge in the Alpes-Maritimes and a hamlet in Somerset. She is the author of two books: This Is the Place to Be, a fragmentary memoir published in 2016 with CB editions, and In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre (IB Tauris, 2014) which was nominated for several awards and longlisted for The Orwell Prize 2015. From 2007-8, she was a writing fellow at the University of Witwatersrand and in 2006 she was a press fellow at the University of Cambridge. Between 1996 and 2007, Lara worked as a journalist, mainly for the BBC World Service, both in London and abroad, and was BBC correspondent in Angola, Ivory Coast and Mali. Before that, she studied for a BA and MSc in politics at the School of Oriental & African Studies. As well as making many programmes for the BBC, Lara has participated in numerous radio and television programmes in London, Lisbon, Luanda and Johannesburg, and her reviews, essays and commentary have been published in many publications. She has many fixations.

Lara’s photo is by Julian Richards