The British author on community, speaking truth to power, and how he came to co-edit a collection of essays by immigrants to the US
Born in Harrow in 1980, Nikesh Shukla is the award-winning author of novels including Coconut Unlimited and Meatspace. His latest, The One Who Wrote Destiny, is out now in paperback. His second young adult novel, The Boxer, is published in June. His screenwriting credits include Kabadasses and Two Dosas. Shukla is co-founder of the Good Literary Agency, editor of The Good Journal, and of The Good Immigrant – an essay collection of 21 writers exploring what it means to be black, Asian and minority ethnic in Britain today, which is being developed into a TV show. The Good Immigrant USA, edited by Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman, is a collection of essays from first- and second-generation immigrants to the US including Teju Cole, Jenny Zhang, and Chigozie Obioma, and is published this month.
The Good Immigrant was a huge success. How did you conceive of it?
I’d read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and thought, where is Britain’s progressive, contemporary book about race issues? I was sick of the assumption that whenever people of colour get an opportunity it’s not because of our skill or merit. Instead of my default, which is to whine about things on Twitter, I thought: I’m going to do something constructive. The amazing thing is that we were crowdfunded in three days. I pressed refresh and there was a name, Joanne Rowling, and she took out patron level. It was a really exciting time.