School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Dr Preti Taneja

Lecturer in Prose Fiction


Dr Preti Taneja is a writer, editor and activist.

Preti's first novel WE THAT ARE YOUNG (UK: Galley Beggar Press, 2017) re-imagines Shakespeare's King Lear in contemporary India and was critically acclaimed as 'a masterpiece' (the Spectator). It is published in India by Penguin, in the USA by AA Knopf, and is in translation into several languages. It is in development as a major international TV series with the makers of Narcos, Gaumont US. 

WE THAT ARE YOUNG won the Desmond Elliott Prize 2018 for the UK's best debut novel, and the Eastern Eye Award for literature. It was shortlisted for the Books are My Bag Readers Choice Awards, the Republic of Consciousness Prize, (UK) and the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize (India), and longlisted for the Jhalak Prize, the Rathbones Folio Prize (UK) and the Prix Jan Michalski, Europe's premier award for a work of world literature.

It was an Amazon Book of the Month, and Book of the Year in the Sunday Times, Spectator, Guardian (UK), Library Journal (USA) and of the decade in The Hindu (India). It was awarded Starred Reviews in Kirkus, Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly (USA).

Preti has been invited to speak about the novel around the world including at Adelaide Writer's Week, The Jaipur Literature Festival, Lit Cologne, Edinburgh Festival, Hay Festival and Cambridge Literary Festival.

Keynote lectures on WE THAT ARE YOUNG/ Shakespeare and Human Rights

  • 2021: World Shakespeare Congress, Singapore, Keynote
  • 2021: British Academy Lectures, Leeds University
  • 2020: Yale University: South Asian Writes - Lecture, Seminar, Reading 
  • 2019: British Shakespeare Association, Swansea University, Keynote
  • 2019: Warwick Translates (Summer School) Warwick University, Keynote
  • 2019: CELSA- Université Paris-Sorbonne, Keynote
  • 2018: Stanford University: One-week residency: Lectures and Readings
  • 2018: John's Hopkins University Writing Seminars: Reading/ Q&A
  • 2018: MIT/ Harvard Women in Renaissance Theatre: Lecture

Residencies and Fellowships: 

  • Writer in Residence, TIDE (Travel and Transcultural Identity in Early Modern England 1500-1700) University of Oxford, 2020
  • Seagull Books Writer in Residence, 2020
  • UNESCO Fellow in Prose Fiction, University of East Anglia, 2019
  • Fellow Commoner, Jesus College, University of Cambridge
  • AHRC/ BBC New Generation Thinker broadcasting for Radio 3 and 4 on world literature and culture. 

Teaching: Preti teaches Creative Writing for the national prison education programme, LEARNING TOGETHER

Editing: Preti co founded and edits VISUAL VERSE, the online anthology of art and words. 

- She is a Contributing Editor for the award winning small press AND OTHER STORIES. 

Films: With Ben Crowe she co-wrote The man who met himself, nominated for the short film Palme D'Or at the Festival de Cannes 2005, and the feature film Verity's Summer (2010) which was shot on the Northumberland Coast. Together, they also co-founded ERA Films making interactive multimdedia for major impact academic research projects, NGOs, Trade Union bodies and medium and small charities. They have worked on issues as diverse as cultural rights in conflicts, language and loss,  Iraq’s refugee crisis, in Rwanda with survivors of the genocide and with women in slum areas of Nairobi, Kenya and on migrant workers' rights worldwide.

Public service to Literature/ The Arts

  • 2020 -   Board of Advisers, Shadow Heroes
  • 2020 -   Chair of Judges, The Desmond Elliott Prize
  • 2019 -   Judge, the inaugural Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 
  • 2015-19 - Trustee, Tara Arts 


Preti studied Theology, Religion and Philosophy of Religion with Sanskrit at the University of Cambridge and has a PGDip in Print Journalism from City University, where she was a recipient of the Guardian's Scott Trust Bursary.

She has worked as a carer, a youth counsellor and as a Programme Manager at a grassroots youth charity.

From 2006-10 she was a journalist and editor at a research-based minority rights NGO, primarily covering the US-lead invasion of Iraq in 2003, and its impact on Iraq's religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities.

Alongside this she completed a part-time MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway University of London.

In 2010 she was able to pursue a full-time PhD in Creative Writing with the support of RHUL's Reid Scholarship, where she researched and wrote the first draft of WE THAT ARE YOUNG.


Current Research Interests:

  • Shakespeare in translation of language and form in the 20th and 21st Century
  • Intersections and interventions of culture as challenge to human and minority rights discourse and abrogations in conflict and postconflict situations in the 20th and 21st Centuries
  • Modern and contemporary prison writing, prison poetics
  • Global modernisms, particularly British Asian and South Asian modernism
  • Race, decolonisation, culture and literature in modern and contemporary Britain and America
  • The writing and thought of JM Coetzee
  • Contemporary writing on Kashmir
  • Indian writing in English and in translation 1947 - now.

Research Profile:

2017-19: Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellowship, University of Warwick: Shakespeare and Human Rights

Shakespeare and Human Rights considers the production, performance and reception of Shakespeare's plays when they are in translations of language and form, by people using culture to mediate their own conflict and postconflict zone issues. The period of focus for this project was 2014-16, two major years for Shakespeare commemoration in the Anglophone world. 

Co-supervisor, MA Module: Writing Wrongs (Creative Practice and Human Rights)

2014-16 Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Global Shakespeare, University of Warwick and QMUL.

2010-13 PhD in Creative Writing, Royal Holloway, University of London.



SEL8321 MA Portfolio - Supervisor

SEL227 Prose Workshop - Module Leader

SEL3400 Prose Portfolio - Supervisor

SEL8677 CRAFT: Prose - Module Leader