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Preti Taneja RSL Fellowship

Preti Taneja announced as Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature

Published on: 27 July 2023

Preti Taneja has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (RSL), the charity that represents the voice of literature in the UK.

Preti is one of 31 new Fellows announced in 2023 - the second induction of writers elected to Fellowship through the RSL Open initiative.

To be considered, potential Fellows must have published at least two works of outstanding literary merit. Preti, who is Professor of World Literature and Creative Writing in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University, and Director of the Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts, was elected for her books We That Are Young, which won the 2018 Desmond Elliott Prize for the UK's finest literary debut of the year, and Aftermath, which attempts to make sense of the 2019 London bridge terrorist attack, and won the 2022 Gordon Burn Prize for literature - being praised for being 'fearless in ambition and execution’. 

Launched in 2020 as part of the RSL’s bicentenary celebrations, the RSL Open initiative has so far seen 60 new writers from communities, backgrounds and experiences currently under-represented in UK literary culture elected to Fellowship.

The appointments have included writers of colour, LGBTQIA+ writers, working class writers, disabled writers, and writers outside of London, to ensure the diversity of excellent writers in the UK is celebrated in the RSL Fellowship. 

Readers and writers from across the UK recommended writers for nomination who were then considered by a panel made up of some of the UK’s most prolific writers - they reviewed recommendations, read the writers put forward, and nominated the cohort of around 30 writers for election to Fellowship.

The panel was chaired by Damian Barr with Monica Ali, Nick Laird, Sabrina Mahfouz, Charlotte Mendelson, Daljit Nagra, Irenosen Okojie and Chibundu Onuzo.

“Being elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature by writers on the basis of my work so far, and by members of the public, means a great deal to me,” Preti said. “It's an opportunity to join a group of writers I so admire, and to continue to mentor new writers and take part in the literary and cultural life of the UK and beyond. It's the best recognition and endorsement of my literary activism and my writing itself, and something I could not have imagined when I first started out.”

Founded in 1820, the Royal Society of Literature acts as a voice for the value of literature, honouring and supporting emerging and established writers whilst creating a bridge between authors and audiences of all backgrounds and experiences to engage as many people as possible with the wealth of literature in the UK.

At an event at London’s Garden Museum to announce the appointments, the new Fellows and Honorary Fellows elected in 2023 signed their names in the RSL Roll Book using a pen from the charity’s collection. The RSL’s pens are from some of the most historically influential UK writers including Arnold Wesker, Andrea Levy, Jean Rhys, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, T.S. Eliot and Lord Byron. The RSL Roll Book dates back to 1825, five years after the founding of the charity in 1820 and features the signature of Fellows and Honorary Fellows elected in the past 200 years.

Press release adapted with thanks to the Royal Society of Literature.

Preti Taneja

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