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Published: 02 December 2015

Critically-acclaimed author Monica Ali appointed Distinguished Writer-in-Residence

The School of English and Languages at the University of Surrey has today appointed award-winning author Monica Ali as Distinguished Writer-in-Residence.

In her role, Monica will support the School’s mission to help students gain hands-on practical skills in their area of creative endeavour, while also developing a deeper and more extensive critical understanding of the cultural, literary and historical contexts of the work they are producing. She will be running a series of Distinguished Writer-in-Residence Masterclasses in 2016, which will be open to Creative Writing MA and MFA students, as well as final year undergraduates on the English Literature with Creative Writing and Film with Creative Writing programmes and postgraduate research students working towards PhDs in Creative Writing. Monica will also be providing one-on-one Writing Surgery sessions, sharing with students her novel-writing expertise and insight.  

Professor Diane Watt, Head of the School of English and Languages at the University of Surrey, said: "I am delighted that Monica Ali will be joining our School as Distinguished Writer-in-Residence.  Monica is a highly regarded and respected writer and I am so looking forward to working with her to inspire the next generation of writers.” 

Clare Holt, a second-year student on the MFA Programme in Creative Writing at Surrey, was equally enthusiastic: "It’s so exciting to have Monica joining us here at the University of Surrey as Distinguished Writer-in-Residence. She’ll add star value to the stimulating and challenging Creative Writing degrees at Surrey and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to know her and learn from her." 

Monica is an award-winning writer, whose novels include Brick Lane (which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize), In the Kitchen and Untold Story. Her work has been translated into 26 languages. She has been a Visiting Professor on the MFA course at Columbia University, New York, and has tutored on the novel writing MA at City University, London. She has also tutored for the Arvon Foundation. 

Monica has been a guest editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, has been a contributor to many other media outlets, and is an occasional literary reviewer for the New York Times. She has been a judge for, amongst others, the BBC Short Story Award, and the Winton Prize for science books. She is a Patron of the SI Leeds Prize for unpublished fiction by Black and Asian women. She is also a member of the Independent Monitoring Board for HMP Brixton, and a trustee of the St. Giles Trust, a charity that helps ex-offenders to turn their lives around. 

The appointment of Surrey’s first Distinguished Writer-in-Residence is the latest great news in a tremendously successful year for the English Literature with Creative Writing programme at the University of Surrey – which was ranked 7th in the UK in the 2015 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide and which was placed in the top twenty in the UK for student satisfaction in the 2015 National Student Survey, with 86% of students expressing overall satisfaction with the programme and 91% expressing satisfaction with the teaching.

Q&A with Monica Ali, Surrey’s Distinguished Writer in Residence 2016

Discover more about our English Literature and Creative Writing programmes.