Authors Ann Morgan and Irenosen Okojie were on a panel together for last week’s Hillingdon Literary Festival, to talk about their novels and the theme of identity both works deal with.
For Okojie, the overarching theme in her work Butterfly Fish comes from cultural identity- having grown up in London with parents from Nigeria, she spoke about cultural ‘loss’, and how those with immigrant parents often have to pick and choose which parts of their identity they want to hold on to.
For Morgan, identity crisis in her novel Beside Myself comes in a different form- that of the mind. Speaking about the book, she questioned which aspects of our personalities were chosen by us and which imposed onto us by others. In a situation like the one her protagonist finds in the book, do people see only what they want to see?
Both authors took questions from their audience, and discussed the space left in mainstream literary fiction for authors from more diverse backgrounds, as well as the importance of independent publishers and translators.
The session concluded on a powerful note, Morgan saying:
‘The more stories we have coming from different voices, the richer our tradition’.