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Multiple award-winning poet, novelist and playwright to share personal story of resilience at Literary Leicester event

Multiple award-winning poet, novelist and playwright will be giving the University of Leicester an exclusive insight into his personal story of resilience as part of this year’s Literary Leicester Festival. 

Fred d’Aguiar, Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and winner of the Malcolm X prize for Poetry, the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the David Higham Prize for Fiction, and shortlistee for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, will be delivering a personal memoir entitled ‘A Year of Plagues’, to staff and students at the University of Leicester, as well as members of the public. 

The event, organised by the Centre for New Writing in partnership with Renaissance One, will see British-Guyanese writer D’Aguiar deliver a piercing and unforgettable recollection of the past year. There’s no doubt that 2020 was a challenging year globally, but for Fred it also came with an additional set of personal challenges, including a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. 

Combining personal reminiscence and philosophy, Fred’s work questions the purpose of pursuing a life of writing and teaching in the face of such overwhelming upheavals. Harrowing yet uplifting, a memoir of existence, protest, and survival. 

Dr Harry Whitehead, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Leicester, and Director of both the Centre for New Writing and Literary Leicester Festival explained what it means to have Fred on campus and sharing his memoirs with the citizens of Leicester: “I’m so happy to be working with Renaissance One to bring Fred d’Aguiar to the university as part of his UK tour.

“It’s a rare and exciting opportunity for students, staff and the Leicester public to hear a truly important, lyrical and generally wonderful voice in contemporary poetry, prose, theatre and now memoir. D’Aguiar’s talk is offered as part of the Centre for New Writing’s and Literary Leicester’s annual series of author events for our students, but open to all.   

D’Aguiar’s memoir comes at a particularly poignant time, as society celebrates and promotes the contributions and achievements of people of African or Caribbean backgrounds throughout Black History Month. His vast catalogue of award-winning work boldly confronts important and ever-relevant issues such as slavery and racism, and aligns closely with The Centre for New Writing’s own research promotion of regional black and Asian writers. 

Dr Whitehead continued: “Since 2013, the Centre for New Writing has documented, challenged, and promoted wider understanding of our complex literary landscape beyond traditional commercial, cultural and geographical centres. It actively seeks to reshape this landscape. We’re overjoyed to welcome d’Aguiar, whose work exemplifies so much the Centre seeks to celebrate and support.” 

The event will take place at 4pm on Thursday 28 October in the Charles Wilson Building’s Belvoir City Lounge on the University of Leicester’s main campus. Although the event is open to all, tickets are limited and can be booked by emailing Dr Whitehead at hdw5@le.ac.uk. 

For more information about the event, go to le.ac.uk/new-writing/events.

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