Nikita Lalwani (FRSL)

Nikita Lalwani (FRSL)


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Personal profile

Personal profile

Nikita Lalwani was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018 and awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2020. She is a novelist and screenwriter, one of the writers on the BBC1/Amazon series 'The Outlaws' (Season 1 and 2)  created by Stephen Merchant.

Her work has been translated into sixteen languages. Her first novel, GIFTED  – the story of a child prodigy of Indian origin growing up in Wales – was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and won the inaugural Desmond Elliott Prize for Fiction. Her second, THE VILLAGE, was modelled on a real-life ‘prison village’ in northern India, and won a Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize.

Her third novel, YOU PEOPLE ( Penguin UK, June 2020)  revolves around a London restaurant and its enigmatic proprietor, a man known for offering under-the-counter loans, legal aid and safe passage to those in need. 

YOU PEOPLE reviews: 

'Enthralling as a thriller, yet also a beautiful human drama, and a serious enquiry into the possibility of goodness' Tessa Hadley

‘A female lead who isn’t defined by a romantic story arc? Yes please. Lalwani’s serious, ravishing way of writing about the secret life of Britain is just what we need’ - Times

'Intelligent and heart-piercing - an exceptional novel about the Britain we live in, even if we choose not to see it' Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire

‘A lively, poetically written and above all compassionate book’ – Sunday Times

‘A moving, authentic, humane novel which raises fundamental questions about what it means to be kind in an unkind world’ - Guardian

'Lalwani's prose has a balletic lightness… Slinking along like a thriller, it encompasses peoplesmuggling, the labyrinthine inhumanity of Britain's immigration system, alcoholism and a class prejudice that cuts both ways. Kindness and its motives are a constant preoccupation' - Economist

'Beautiful and brilliant. The exquisite writing is vivid, poetic and perceptive; the characters alive and compelling. Everything I want from a novel. I loved it.' Stephen Merchant 

YOU PEOPLE has been optioned for televsion by World Productions with Lalwani attached as screenwriter

Lalwani has contributed essays and journalism to The Guardian, The New Statesman and The Times. She has been a judge for the Rathbones Folio prize, the Orwell prize for political writing, the RSL Encore prize for second novels. She has appeared on FRONT ROW ( BBC Radio 4), 'THE ARTS HOUR' ( BBC World Service), HARD TALK (BBC), THE AGENDA (ITV), NOVELS THAT SHAPED THE WORLD (BBC2)  and WOMAN'S HOUR (BBC R4).

She works regularly with the human rights organisation LIBERTY. 

Other work

A selection of Nikita Lalwani's novels. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

Fellow , Royal Society of Literature Council

1 Aug 2018 → …

Trustee, LIBERTY ( Civil Liberties Trust)

1 Aug 2009 → …