Pirates and smugglers – Writing in South Asia

Hello! And welcome to episode 50 of WE’D LIKE A WORD!

In this jubilee episode Stevyn and Paul are discussing writers from Pakistan and India and the problems they face getting their work out to the public. In the studio is Awais Khan from Lahore in Pakistan, the author of two novels – In The Company of Strangers (published by Simon & Schuster India, & soon to be published in the UK by Hera) & No Honour (published by Orenda Books – we had the publisher Karen Sullivan on a previous hilarious and revealing episode of We’d Like A Word). In The Company of Strangers is being made into a feature for Pikchur TV online streaming service. Awais is also the founder of The Writing Institute in Lahore.

In a fun and informative three part show we discuss rude agents, Annette Crossland, overcoming discouragement, how to schedule your writing, Jackie Collins, how to be socially relevant, the problem of counterfeit books in Pakistan, how to be a writer while holding down a day job, The Faber Academy, Liberty Books, the Indian/Pakistan trade embargo and whetehr you could smuggle your own books across the border, arranged and forced marriages, so-called ‘honour’ killings, and the brilliant work of the Edhi Foundation.

Awais Khan

Also in this episode we hear from Indian writers Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Chandra who give their insights into how they write, advice for new authors and the books they love.

Amitav Ghosh is the renowned Indian author of the Sea of Poppies trilogy & more recently, Jungle Nama. His writing advice is to write the book you would love to read yourself, or that would make you laugh or cry. He recommends Barkskins by Annie Proulx.

Vikram Chandra is most famous for writing Sacred Games, which was made into the extremely popular Netflix series of the same name. He advises new authors to follow their obsessions & ignore the received wisdom that you should write what you know. On the contrary, he says you should write what you do not know, what obsesses you. He recommends Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.


We’d Like A Word is a podcast & radio show from authors Paul Waters & Stevyn Colgan. We talk with writers, readers, editors, agents, celebrities, talkers, poets, publishers, booksellers, audiobook creators about books – fiction & non-fiction. We go out on iTunes, Spotify and many other radio & podcast platforms but you can click here to hear the podcast on our hosting site, Anchor.

We’re on Twitter @wedlikeaword & Facebook @wedlikeaword & our email is [email protected] (Yes, we are embarrassed by the missing apostrophes). We like to hear from you – questions, thoughts, ideas, guest or book suggestions. Perhaps you’d like to come on We’d Like A Word to chat, review or read out passages from books. And if you’re still stuck for something to read, may we recommend Blackwatertown by Paul Waters or Cockerings by Stevyn Colgan.