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.

Emma D’Costa – Administrator

Emma is the Administrator of Untold. Emma has many years’ experience of curating exhibitions, organising events and managing arts projects with a focus on world cultures. She worked at the Commonwealth Foundation from 2011 to 2024, managing a range of cultural events and projects. Before that, she managed the exhibitions programme at the Commonwealth Institute, and, at London-based arts charity Cultural Co-operation, she worked with artists from London’s national and faith communities, as well as curating the talks and spoken word programme for the Music Village Festivals, and organising a major conference on diaspora literature in 2005. 

Paranda network

Lillie Razvi Toon – Project Manager

Lillie is Project Manager of the Paranda network. She has worked at Untold in previous years as an Assistant Editor and Project Coordinator on the Write Afghanistan project. Before joining Untold, Lillie was the Admin & Network’s Assistant at REDRESS, a human rights organisation seeking justice for survivors of torture. Other roles have included Assistant Producer at Wimbledon BookFestReseacher at New Black Films and Investigative Researcher at Action on Armed Violence. She has a varied academic background having studied politics, international law and human rights at the University of Manchester, Sciences Po, Paris, and the UN-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Azadeh Parsapour – Editor

Azadeh Parsapour is a publisher and freedom to publish advocate. She is the managing director of Nogaam Publishing, using crowdfunding to publish Iranian censored authors. Nogaam supports and empowers Iranian authors and translators, advocates freedom of speech, promotes Persian-language digital publishing and provides easy access to the invaluable books for Farsi readers. Parsapour is also the founder ofTehran Book Fair, Uncensoredan annual book fair for books published outside of Iran by Iranian independent publishers. In addition to her publishing activities, she has also worked as a translator and researcher for different projects and organisations that defend digital rights and internet freedom. 

Katherine Skala, Editor

For twenty-five years Katri has worked as a writer, editor, mentor and senior arts administrator. Her last novel,A Perfect Mother, was published in 2018, and she is in the process of completing her latest book,The First of All Pleasures. Through her involvement with the National Centre for Writing, she has mentored writers of fiction and non-fiction. She edited the literary journalPretext at UEA. She was the founding programme director of ‘New Writing Worlds’, an international writers’ gathering in Norwich when the National Centre for Writing was first established.  

Natasha Alam Mahsud, Translator

Natasha Alam Mahsud, is a translator from Pakistan and currently a PhD. student at University College London,  her research aims to explore the formation of a postwar community of care among Mahsuds, ethnic Pahstuns, focusing on women’s agency. Expanding knowledge about the lives of Pashtun women and how their domestic activities and participation in fun and leisure in urban areas shape tribal Pashtun identity. Reflecting the move towards cities and increased access to education and jobs to contribute to household income, challenging traditional views on gender roles and larger assumptions of the strictness and unyielding practices of Pashtun patriarchal norms and culture.  

Homa Salehyar, Translator 

Homa has worked as a research assistant with Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) and for international media as a remote translator from Dari to English for more than 12 years. Following Afghanistan’s power transition in 2021, she migrated to the UK. Since 2023, Homa has been translating to/from Persian/Dari and English for Thebigword and Untold Narratives in the UK.

Write Assamese

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.