READINGS & TALKS:
I am based in East Sussex, and offer readings from and talks about my novel Belonging and its themes. These themes include colonialism and its effects on both coloniser and colonised. Also the issues of belonging or not belonging, and the experience of being an outsider for many different reasons: being of another or a mixed race, migration, displacement, not fitting in due to race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, family dysfunction, or maybe just temperament.
CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOPS:
I also offer workshops in prose creative writing: both long and short fiction and life writing.
I am a trained storyteller and co-founded and have co-run an oral storytelling club - The GuestHouse Storytellers - in Newhaven, East Sussex for ten years.
I am generally willing to travel up to 50 miles but can travel further if worthwhile and it fits with my other commitments. In exceptional circumstances I am willing to travel abroad for events. I usually visit India every year.
AWARDS FOR FICTION:
BELONGING has been published in Portuguese and Polish and in an Indian edition in English.
SHORTLISTED - THE AUTHOR'S CLUB BEST FIRST NOVEL AWARD.
SHORTLISTED - THE WAVERTON GOOD READS AWARD 2017
LONGLISTED - THE HISTORICAL WRITERS' ASSOCIATION GOLDSBORO DEBUT CROWN AWARD.
LONGLISTED - THE TATA LIVELIT! BEST BOOK AWARD
Readings & Talks:
I've done readings and talks at Brighton, Shoreham, Crawley, Horsham and Seaford Live Festivals, also at the Tata LiveLit! Festival in Mumbai and am regularly invited to talk to book clubs and groups who've read Belonging..
I appeared in the Dr Blighty events run by Nutkhut to commemorate the centenary of the Indian Hospital in Brighton in 2016, and have also given talks and run workshops at Brighton Museum.
I've given radio interviews to BBC south, and Brighton, Seahaven and Cambridge Community Radios.
I've given talks at New York University in London to students in Post-Colonialism and at Nantes University for their conference on Resilience in Indian Culture and Literature.
Creative Writing Teaching:
I taught on the Certificate in Creative Writing at Sussex University for ten years, on the MA in Creative Writing at Brighton University and currently teach on the Creative Writing Programme at New Writing South. I also run my own classes and also run a Writing Clinic offering a mentoring service for writers.
I run regular workshops in Black History Month and year round for Writing Our Legacy, an organisation that encourages BAME writers to tell their stories.
I adapted a little known Second World War story about a Jewish radar expert who volunteered for a suicidal mission in the Dieppe Raid for the 70th anniversary of the Raid in 2012. This is a one hour performance, which I perform with fellow-storyteller Elizabeth Scott and we both include anecdotes about our fathers and their experiences in the Royal Indian Navy and British Army in the Second World War.
My charges are based on the Society of Authors recommended rates. Please contact me for a quote.
Reviews of Belonging (there are a lot more here: https://amzn.to/2qyxXvB)
"Unforgettable, emotional, compelling. I’ve procrastinated writing my review for Belonging (Umi Sinha’s debut novel) hoping to gain some distance … to disentangle myself, be objective and coherent but even with over a month lapsing since I finished reading, I still feel the same. Belonging is a powerful novel. Hooking the reader in from the beginning? Belonging certainly does that. [...] Umi Sinha brings the settings in India and Sussex alive. It was so easy to visualise the place and the time. The scenes in Cawnpore and the makeshift Indian hospital during WW1 in the Royal Pavilion, Brighton are etched on my heart. [...] My review can’t possibly do justice. Belonging is a story I won’t be able to forget."
You can read the whole review at Jera's Jamboree blog
"Umi Sinha’s Belonging unfurls a dynastic saga through three generations of one troubled family, stretching from the Indian Rebellion to the aftermath of the Great War. The back-and-forth narrative is built on a sturdy armature of deep research, finely wrought prose and expert characterisation. Its focus on the search for love and connection in a chaotic, divided society is hugely affecting."
Review from Anthony Quinn, judge of The Author's Club Best First Novel Award
A review from Australia:
"The author of Belonging has achieved admirably what many don’t even attempt, with her seamless changing of voice from a young girl to a small boy and a newly-wed woman. All are transformed with time and experience and other voices are successfully introduced as their stories unfold. Sinha convinces her reader of multiple settings: glittering dinner parties and class/caste distinctions during the Raj; the extreme heat of the Indian plains and the dreary wetness of an English winter; the battleground and final days of Cawnpore and the killing mud of Ypres. But more compelling are the internal landscapes and conflicts of the central characters as their own searches reveal their places of belonging within the worlds they thought they knew.
"I love a book that I can’t put down. From the puzzling and shocking opening I have to read on and find out what lies behind it. Only towards the end is the rationale for all these complex struggles and secrets finally resolved." Read the whole review by Sue Goss at Other Terrain Journal
A review from the USA:
"In this touching and lithely written debut novel, the gaps separating the generations are wide, but their shared roots in the British Raj and desire for understanding pull them back together. The form it takes is unusual for a family saga – three separate narratives, related in alternating chapters – and this works to heighten immediacy [...] The legacy of long-hidden mysteries lingers throughout... The answers are skillfully revealed in time, yet this is much more than a tale of family secrets. Belonging illustrates the complexity of Anglo-Indian relationships in colonial India and England, Indian soldiers’ valiant WWI service, and the pain of dislocation and unattainable love. Reading it is a deeply felt, mesmerizing experience." Read the whole review at The Historical Society
"If ever there was a time I’ve been glad I judged a book by its cover, this is it. “Belonging” is even more exquisite on the inside than on the outside, a delicately spun tale with a rich emotional resonance that gets a grip on your heart and won’t let go. [...] For me, this novel exemplifies one of the great things about reading: a book that glides in completely under the radar and then blows your mind with its quality and artistry. The skill with which the novel switches between eras and narrators and slowly but surely gathers all the threads together is extraordinary. Often with stories told through multiple voices I find that I’m more interested in some strands than others, but not here. Come for the cover just as I did by all means – but stay for the content, because it’s truly a work of art."You can read the whole review at Girl, reading
"I was given this as a Christmas gift, and have to say what a brilliant present it is. A beautifully written account of the British in India from the 1850's to the early Twentieth Century. I can thoroughly recommend it to those who love M.M.Kaye , and it also compares favourably to another of my all time favourites set in India, "Zemindar' by Valerie Fitzgerald. If all the books I read this year are as wonderful as this first one then 2016 is going to be a great year for us book lovers!!" T.F. White on amazon.co.uk
"This novel makes you think about the damage that secrets and lies can inflict on the unsuspecting and innocent. Silence is used as a mask, a shield and as a weapon depending on whether or not the protagonist feels like they don’t know where they belong, or that they are the property of someone with no control over their own lives. Every character is a fully realised human being with strengths and weaknesses, and Sinha writes each one with sensitivity and empathy as the truth of each situation is gradually unveiled. Love is the overriding emotion in this novel, a deep love that comes from understanding what has gone before in the hope that what is to come will be better, which is why this novel is one of my favourite books of the year."
Pamreader - My Top Ten Novels of 2015
"Sinha balances emotional drama with some hard-hitting narrative and it really is an excellent read, one of my favourites of 2015."
We Love This Book
Belonging is set during the "Indian Mutiny" (as it's known in Britain) or "War of Independence" (as it's known in India), told from the British point of view, and also features an Indian soldier on the Western Front and Mesopotamia in the First World War. My second novel, which I am researching now, with the help of grants from Arts Council England and the Society of Authors, is about the experiences of an Indian soldier between 1944 and 1948 and is set in Italy and India.