Champions of book prizes to share their craft

A visiting writers programme has been launched to celebrate the stellar line-up of authors recognised by the UK’s longest-running literary awards.

Acclaimed writers honoured by the James Tait Black Prizes will visit the University of Edinburgh campus to share their craft through a range of activities including public lectures, masterclasses and roundtable discussions.

Illustrious roll-call

The James Tait Black Prizes, presented by the University of Edinburgh since 1919, are the only major British book prizes judged by literature scholars and students.

Award-winning author, performer and vocalist Amit Chaudhuri is presenting a series of events in October as part of the new initiative.

Headshot of Amit Chaudhuri
Amit Chaudhuri

The Visiting Writers Programme invites shortlisted or winning authors from the illustrious roll-call of the James Tait Black Prizes in fiction or biography.

Support for Programme

The Programme has been established thanks to a donation from Tatjana Soli, who won the James Tait Black Prize for fiction in 2011 for her debut novel, The Lotus Eaters. 

The gift from the writer will also enable a project to create a James Tait Black Prize Library and Archive at the University Main Library.

Amit Chaudhuri won the James Tait Black Prize for Biography in 2022 for Finding the Raga: An Improvisation on Indian Music, a mesmerising exploration of the author’s relationship with North Indian classical music.

On Wednesday 4 October the author will present a writing masterclass to students from the University’s English and Scottish Literature department, which is the oldest in the world.

On Friday 6 October there will be a free public event to mark the author’s latest book – Sweet Shop: New and Selected Poems 1985-2023, published by New York Review Books (NYRB).

The author will discuss his latest work, poetry and the creative process with Dr Simon Cooke, biography judge of the James Tait Black Prizes.

On Monday 9 October, Chaudhuri will join the reading group of the Edinburgh Life-Writing Network, based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures which brings together writers, researchers and students with interests in writing lives – biography, autobiography, memoir, and other forms of life-writing – with presentations and colloquia, a reading group, public talks and interviews.

Author readings

The event features readings of Amit Chaudhuri’s work and The Young Man by Annie Ernaux, translated by Alison L. Strayer.

On Tuesday 17 October, Amit Chaudhuri will be performing compositions from a celebrated musical project he started as a composer, vocalist, and improviser in 2005.

This is not Fusion will be performed at the Edinburgh College of Art Sculpture Court as part of the UNESCO Week of Sound.

The performance will be bring together Chaudhuri’s practices as a writer, critic, and musician. He will be joined by musicians Adam Moore on guitar and Matt Hodges on piano/keyboards.

Amit Chaudhuri has written several acclaimed books and works of poetry. A renowned musician, he has also released recordings of his singing North Indian classical music.

He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2009 and has been a Professor of Creative Writing at Ashoka University since 2020.

We are delighted to be able to welcome Amit Chaudhuri to the University. The James Tait Black Visiting Writers Programme seeks to enable a deeper exploration of writers' work and to nurture sustained and creative connections between the University community and the writers the Prizes seek to honour.

Dr Simon CookeBiography Judge

Each year the very best fiction and biography works published in the previous 12 months are recognised. Two winners are selected from a shortlist of eight books. 

The awards have celebrated landmark works and propelled the careers of many authors – with a distinguished roster of winning and shortlisted authors.

The University runs a free online course in partnership with Edinburgh International Book Festival, which offers readers the chance to engage with James Tait Black judges and other readers on the fiction books shortlisted for the Prizes.

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) – called How to Read a Novel – has attracted more than 60,000 participants worldwide since its launch in 2017.

Tickets for the James Tait Black Visiting Writers events are available on Eventbrite 

Tickets for This is not Fusion are available  via Eventbrite

James Tait Black Prizes

Image credits -  Richard Lofthouse, University of Oxford 

Homepage image - Credit - Neil Hanna Photography. Amit Chaudhuri at the James Tait Black awards ceremony in 2022.