Maya Jaggi

Maya Jaggi is a writer, literary critic and editor who, as one of Britain's most respected cultural journalists,[1] since the 1980s has been "an influential voice on world literature".[2] In the words of the Open University, from which Jaggi received an honorary doctorate in 2012, she "has had a transformative influence in the last 25 years in extending the map of international writing today".[1] Jaggi has been a contributor to a wide range of publications including The Guardian, Financial Times, The Independent, The Literary Review, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, New Statesman, Wasafiri, Index on Censorship, and Newsweek, and is particularly known for her profiles of writers, artists, film-makers, musicians and others.[3] She is also a broadcaster and presenter on radio and television. Jaggi is the niece of actor and food writer Madhur Jaffrey.[4][5]

Maya Jaggi
London, England
Alma materUniversity of Oxford; London School of Economics
OccupationWriter, broadcaster, literary critic and editor
RelativesMadhur Jaffrey (aunt)
AwardsNational Newspaper Writer of the Year, RIMA (1996; 1998);
Feature writer of the year, EMMA Awards (1998; 1999);
Honorary doctorate, Open University (2012)

Life and careerEdit

Born in London, UK,[6] where her parents settled after migrating from India,[4] Maya Jaggi was educated at Oxford University and the London School of Economics.[7]

Her first job, in the 1980s, was as Literary Editor of the journal Third World Quarterly,[8] where she "created a literature section that embraced Latin America as part of the global South", commissioning and publishing work by and about major writers.[9] In the late 1990s, she joined the staff of The Guardian, working on the foreign news desk while also writing for the paper's cultural pages.[9]

Since 2000 Jaggi has built a freelance career reporting on arts and culture from five continents[2] and has earned acclaim for her long-form arts profiles, written particularly for the Guardian Review.[7] In addition, she has contributed articles and reviews to a wide range of publications, among them the Financial Times, The Independent, The Economist, The Times Literary Supplement, The Observer, The Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph, Index on Censorship, the Literary Review, the Evening Standard, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, New York Review of Books, New Statesman, Bookforum, and Wasafiri magazine.

In September 2004 she was one of 50 Black and Asian writers celebrated for their contribution to the canon of contemporary British literature in a photograph at the British Library entitled "A Great Day".[10][11][12]

She has received various awards over the years and in 2012 her work was recognised with an honorary doctorate from the Open University,[13] the citation noting that Jaggi "occupies a unique place in British journalism, and has had a transformative influence in the last 25 years in extending the map of international writing today."[1]

In 2014 she was a DAAD fellow in Berlin.[14]

Literary profilesEdit

She has interviewed a dozen Nobel Prize-winners for literature, including Gunter Grass, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jose Saramago, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, V. S. Naipaul, Kenzaburō Ōe, and Orhan Pamuk (before he won the prize),[1] as well as other celebrated authors and scholars including Chinua Achebe, Umberto Eco, Tom Stoppard, W. G. Sebald, James Kelman, Alice Walker, Nuruddin Farah, Mahmoud Darwish, Hanan al-Shaykh, Elias Khoury, Alaa al-Aswany, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Amin Maalouf, Isabel Allende, Henry Louis Gates Jr, Eric Hobsbawm, George Steiner, Jeanette Winterson, Caryl Phillips, Kazuo Ishiguro, Arundhati Roy, Walter Mosley, Terry McMillan, Amy Tan, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Aminatta Forna, Nadeem Aslam, Romesh Gunesekera, Junot Diaz and Edward Said (the latter praising her profile of him as "in a class of its own"),[1][15] and practitioners of diverse art forms, such as filmmaker Costa Gavras, musician Abdullah Ibrahim, painter Frank Bowling, dancer Carlos Acosta, and Oprah Winfrey.

Several of Jaggi's literary profiles have appeared in such collections as Lives and Works (2002), Writing Across Worlds: Contemporary Writers Talk (ed. Susheila Nasta, 2004) and Women of the Revolution: Forty Years of Feminism (ed. Kira Cochrane, 2010). The 2001 Penguin Modern Classics edition of Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah has an introduction by Jaggi.[8][16]


Her work as a broadcaster encompasses contributions to such BBC radio programmes as The Strand,[17] Front Row, Night Waves, Off the Page, Any Questions? and The World Tonight,[8][18] and she was writer-presenter of the television documentary Isabel Allende: The Art of Reinvention (BBC Four, 2003).[19] In 2009, Jaggi's interview with cultural theorist Stuart Hall was the subject of a 258-minute film by Mike Dibb entitled Personally Speaking: A Long Conversation with Stuart Hall.[20][21]

Other cultural activityEdit

Jaggi has served as an adviser to the London Arts Board and the British Council, an executive member of English PEN[18] and as a judge for numerous literary awards: the Orange Prize, the David Cohen Prize, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize,[22] the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation,[23] the Amnesty International UK Media Awards,[24] the Harvill Secker Young Translators' Prize,[25] the Warwick Prize for Writing,[26] the Wasafiri New Writing Prize,[27] the Man Asian Literary Prize,[28][29] the Caine Prize for African Writing,[30] the International Dublin Literary Award,[31] the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature,[32] and others.[33]

She participates regularly in literary festivals,[9][34][35] presents seminars and live events,[36][37][38] and is a board member of Wasafiri magazine and a patron of the SI Leeds Literary Prize.[39] She is also a member of the Folio Prize Academy.[40]

In April 2016 she was Artistic Director of the project "Where Europe Meets Asia: Georgia 25", a cultural week marking the 25 years since Georgia gained independence from the Soviet Union.[41] Talks, films and other events took place in London at Asia House[42] and elsewhere, with participants including Boris Akunin, Boyd Tonkin, Donald Rayfield, Aka Morchiladze, Dato Turashvili, Zurab Karumidze, Claire Armitstead, Maureen Freely, and others.[43][44]

Awards and recognitionEdit

  • 1996: National Newspaper Writer of the Year, Race in the Media Awards (RIMA).[8]
  • 1998: National Newspaper Writer of the Year, Race in the Media Awards.[8]
  • 1998: Feature writer of the year, EMMA awards, Ethnic Multicultural Media Academy.[45]
  • 1999: Feature writer of the year, EMMA awards, Ethnic Multicultural Media Academy.[46]
  • 2001: National News – body of work, RIMA, shortlisted[47]
  • 2012: Honorary degree of Doctor of the University, Open University, for her "outstanding contribution to education and culture".[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Cultural journalist Maya Jaggi receives OU Honorary Doctorate", The Open University, 3 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b Maya Jaggi profile, The Guardian.
  3. ^ Maya Jaggi, "Global art requires a shift in our perceptions", The Financial Times, 6 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Memories-on-sea: Lake District – Maya Jaggi", The Guardian, 18 August 2008.
  5. ^ "Madhur", Mygola.
  6. ^ "About the Author", Anthills of the Savannah (Penguin Modern Classics), Amazon.
  7. ^ a b Biographical notes, Newsweek magazine, 2 January 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e Advisory board Archived 4 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Wasafiri.
  9. ^ a b c "Maya Jaggi. A Cultural Journalist on World Literature via Spain", New Spanish Books.
  10. ^ "A Great Day" Archived 12 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Renaissance One.
  11. ^ Andrea Levy, "Made in Britain", The Guardian, 18 September 2004.
  12. ^ Kevin Le Gendre, "Books: A great day for a family get together; Who are the movers and shakers in black British writing? And can they all fit on one staircase?", The Independent on Sunday, 17 October 2004.
  13. ^ "Honorary graduate cumulative list", Open University, 2017.
  14. ^ "Maya Jaggi", International Publishers Congress London 2016 .
  15. ^ Judges, The Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize: Arabic to English, 6 June 2011.
  16. ^ Maya Jaggi, "Emerging Voices: Literature has liberated Africa’s authors", The Financial Times, 30 January 2015.
  17. ^ "The Strand Archive" (podcast), BBC World Service, 26 April 2011.
  18. ^ a b Maya Jaggi biography at Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. The Banipal Trust for Arab Literature.
  19. ^ Contributor biographies Archived 13 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Brick 76.
  20. ^ "Personally Speaking: A Long Conversation with Stuart Hall (2009)", IMDb.
  21. ^ "Personally Speaking – Clip – Stuart Hall on the Obama Phenomenon", YouTube.
  22. ^ Maya Jaggi, "No thanks, ma'am", Our Daily Read, 15 June 2005.
  23. ^ Maya Jaggi, "Lost and found in translation", The Guardian, 17 November 2007.
  24. ^ "Media Awards Shortlist Announced", Amnesty International UK, 16 May 2001.
  25. ^ Harvill Secker Young Translators' Prize 2011, Vintage.
  26. ^ "Blogger & Maths Prof Join Weird Fiction Writer as Judges of Warwick's £50,000 Writing Prize", News & Events, Warwick.
  27. ^ "New Writing Prize 2012", Wasafiri.
  28. ^ "Prize winning cultural journalist and novelists announced as judges for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize" Archived 1 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, The Man Asian Literary Prize, 14 May 2012.
  29. ^ "2012 Man Asian Literary Prize Shortlist Announcement. Dr. Maya Jaggi, Chair Judge of the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize, announces the shortlist via video conference from Man Group offices in London and Hong Kong."
  30. ^ "Maya Jaggi, Judge 2012, Cultural journalist and critic", The Caine Prize, 25 June 2012.
  31. ^ "Impac prize judge Maya Jaggi: how we chose this year's winner", Books blog, The Guardian, 12 June 2014.
  32. ^ "The 2018 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature". Repeating Islands. 1 October 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  33. ^ "2014 Judging Panel" Archived 14 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
  34. ^ Maya Jaggi, "Yugonostalgia: Letter From Croatia", Literary Review, February 2014.
  35. ^ "Maya Jaggi". Hay Festival.
  36. ^ "Watch: Hwang Sun-mi with Maya Jaggi at LBF 2014", English PEN, 30 May 2014.
  37. ^ "Highlights: Edinburgh Taster: Elias Khoury and Bahaa Taher", YouTube. Maya Jaggi moderating discussion at the Frontline Club, 27 October 2009.
  38. ^ "Meera Syal In conversation with Maya Jaggi", Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, 20 May 2015.
  39. ^ "Maya Jaggi" Archived 18 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine, SI Leeds Literary Prize.
  40. ^ Caroline Carpenter, "Big names turn out for Folio Prize Festival", The Bookseller, 5 December 2013.
  41. ^ "Cultural week dedicated to 25 years of independence of Georgia", Embassy of Georgia to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, April 2016.
  42. ^ Jemimah Steinfeld, "Insights into Georgia ahead of a series of talks at Asia House" Archived 25 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Asia House, 8 April 2016.
  43. ^ "Where Europe Meets Asia: GEORGIA25, 11-17 April 2016", Georgian National Book Center.
  44. ^ "Where Europe meets Asia: Georgia25", The European Literature Network.
  45. ^ Boyd Tonkin, "And the winner is... just about everyone actually", The Independent, 18 May 1998.
  46. ^ "Maya Jaggi | EMMA Awards" (1999), YouTube.
  47. ^ "Race in the Media – The 2001 awards", The Guardian.

External linksEdit