About Untold Narratives
Untold Narratives works together with writers marginalised by community or conflict, to develop and amplify their work.
In many parts of the world, local writers (fiction and non-fiction) don’t have access to the cultural infrastructures necessary to develop their writing and to find new platforms. Untold supports these writers to develop their work; share their stories with wider communities in their own languages and grow global audiences in translation.
We also connect and support emerging literary editors and translators, to contribute to the development of local cultural landscapes.
Established in 2020, Untold was set up in response to the needs of a group of Afghan women writers who had little or no opportunity to work with editors or translators, or to have their work published.
This initial group of twenty writers has been working with Untold since then and has led to the publication of, My Pen Is the Wing of a Bird, New Fiction by Afghan Women. Also, Rising After the Fall and coming in 2024, My Dear Kabul.
These Afghan women writers form the core of the Paranda network, our initiative for writers in Afghanistan and those in the diaspora.
In 2022, we partnered with BEE Books in Kolkata to replicate the editorial model used for writers in Afghanistan, which resulted in the anthology A Fistful of Moonlight, New Fiction from Assam. We’re hoping to do more in NE India, as well as collaborations with writers in Yemen, Iran and those writing in the indigenous languages of South America.
Untold delivers writer development projects that bring writers from one part of the world to readers in another.
“There are stories in this country that people elsewhere have no way of knowing.
This is why it's so important that our work is recognised beyond our borders.”
- Writer from Write Afghanistan.
Who we are
Lucy Hannah – Founder and Director
Lucy specialises in setting up and delivering creative initiatives with marginalised communities. She founded and led Commonwealth Writers which operates across 53 countries, particularly in areas with little or no creative industries. While at the BBC, she established BBC Writer’s Room which discovers, develops and champions new writing talent across the UK. She has worked with writers in areas of conflict and post-conflict, including: Afghanistan, Chechnya, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Sudan and N.E. Nigeria. She is a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College, London, and Director of the BOCAS LitFest in Trinidad.
Sarah Gardner – Chair
Sarah Gardner has 30 years’ experience as a leader in the culture sector, covering policymaking, networking, governance, public affairs, marketing, research and international project management. From 2001-2017, she was the founding Executive Director of the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA) and is now an advisor to cultural organisations.
Bill Hicks – Director
Group Financial Controller at DS Smith PLC. Bill has over 20 years experience in UK FTSE 100 public company finance functions leading on external and internal accounting for companies including Tate & Lyle and AstraZeneca.
Sunila Galappatti – Editor
Sunila has worked with other people to tell their stories, as a dramaturg, theatre director, editor and writer. She has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Live Theatre, Kali Theatre and Raking Leaves. Most recently, Sunila has worked as a fiction and non-fiction editor with Commonwealth Writers and as a Consulting Editor at Himal Southasian. She was Director of the Galle Literary Festival (2009 & 2010) and is the author of A Long Watch, which retells the story of a prisoner of war in the Sri Lankan conflict.
Parwana Fayyaz – Translator
Born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1990, Parwana was raised in Quetta, Pakistan. She earned both her B.A. in 2015, with a major in Comparative Literature (with Honors) and a minor in Creative Writing (Poetry) under the supervision of late Eavan Boland, and her M.A. in Religious Studies in 2016 from Stanford University. She then moved to Cambridge University to pursue a PhD in Persian Studies at Trinity College in September of 2016 and completed a thesis titled, ‘Poetry and Poetics: the Sufi Eye and the Neoplatonic Vision in Jāmī’s Salāmān va Absāl’, in 2020. She took up a Junior Research Fellowship as the Carmen Blacker Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge University in October 2020.
Zarghuna Kargar – Project Advisor and Translator
Zarghuna is an award-winning journalist for BBC World News, based in London. She produced and presented the BBC Afghan Woman`s hour and is the author of Dear Zari, The Secret Lives of Women in Afghanistan (2012), a book that reveals the secret lives of women across Afghanistan and allows them to tell their stories in their own words. She has dedicated most of her journalistic career to working for and with Afghan women, reporting and writing their stories. She also wrote Amina’s story, in 2013’s Girl Rising documentary. Zarghuna speaks Pashto, Dari, English and Urdu.
Allia Popal – Interpreter
Allia worked as a judge in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2021 and now lives in the UK, where she is a volunteer with Safe Passage Legal Route, where she assists vulnerable Afghan children, using her interpretation skills to navigate complex legal processes. She’s a part-time interpreter for Untold Narratives, while she prepares for her solicitor’s qualifying examination (SQE) with BARBRI.
Dr Zubair Popalzai – Translator
Zubair is a Pashto, Dari and English language translation and interpretation professional with more than 20 years’ experience. He is a consultant translator for BBC Monitoring and has worked as an interpreter for United Nations special envoys in politically and militarily sensitive environments in South Asia. He also works as a legal interpreter at solicitors’ offices, tribunals, immigration detention centres and police contexts in the UK.
Negeen Kargar – Translator
Negeen is a translator, writer, and research scientist. She has translated and interpreted for the Guardian, Channel 4 and BBC Radio, and is an Associate Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Patrick Spaven – Monitoring and Evaluation
Patrick is Technical Lead at Global MEL Contract, Conflict Stability and Security Fund. He is also an independent consultant and practitioner in monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) and Theory of Change (ToC), and Visiting Fellow at Manchester University. He works mainly in international development and in building MEL systems in governments, organisations, grant funds and programmes.
Esha Chatterjee – CEO of Bee Books
Esha runs the publishing house BEE Books and loves the art of making beautiful books. BEE Books publishes everything from translations, fiction, non-fiction, essays to graphic novels and corporate coffee table books. She also is the Managing Director for Patra Bharati and heads the marketing wing for the Bengali publishing press. She actively participates in structuring the events and looks after national and international collaborations, participates in various book fairs. She is also a book reviewer, critic, and moderator for literary events.
Mitra Phukan – Editor
Mitra Phukan is a writer, translator, columnist and trained classical vocalist who lives in Guwahati, Assam. Her published works include four children’s books, a biography, two novels—The Collector’s Wife and A Monsoon of Music—and a collection comprising fifty of her newspaper columns, titled Guwahati Gaze. In addition, her short stories have appeared in various journals. Her works have been translated into several Indian and European languages. As a translator herself, she has brought the works of some of the best-known contemporary Assamese fiction writers into English. Her widely read column, ‘All Things Considered’, appears fortnightly in The Assam Tribune.
Arunava Sinha – Editor
Arunava Sinha translates classic, modern and contemporary Bengali fiction and nonfiction into English. He is twice the winner of the Crossword translation award, for Sankar’s Chowringhee (2007) and Anita Agnihotri’s Seventeen (2011), respectively, and the winner of the Muse India translation award (2013) for Buddhadeva Bose’s When The Time Is Right. Besides India, his translations have been published in the UK and the US in English, and in several European and Asian countries through further translation. He is an associate professor of practice in the Creative Writing department at Ashoka University, and Co-Director, Ashoka Centre of Translation.
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Untold is a Community Interest Company (company number 12654173). Prospero World (UK registered charity number 1163952) receives charitable donations in support of our work through its fiscal sponsorship programme, and receives tax efficient donations from UK donors on our behalf.