Widely acclaimed novelists Fatima Bhutto (The Runaways) and Elaine Castillo (America Is Not the Heart) have both supercharged literature with their nuanced, layered and passionate responses to questions of belonging. But what does it mean when it’s only writers of colour that are consistently asked to be on panels about ‘identity’, while white writers are rarely (if ever) seen on such line-ups? Fatima and Elaine join Roanna Gonsalves to delve beyond this particular cliché, and discuss how the exploration of geopolitics and history in their work, in a global context and closer to home, can be unwittingly reduced to ‘identity’, even though it’s far more complex – and interesting – than that.

Fatima Bhutto (International)

Fatima Bhutto

Fatima Bhutto was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and grew up in Syria and Pakistan. Fatima’s work has appeared in The Guardian, The Financial Times, Vogue and other publications. She is the author of five books. The Shadow of the Crescent Moon was longlisted in 2014 for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction and won the Prix de la Romanciere in France. Her latest novel is The Runaways.

Elaine Castillo (International)

Elaine Castillo

Elaine Castillo was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Comparative Literature. She is a Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation Fellow, and her writing can be found in Freeman’s, Lit Hub, The Rumpus, Taste Magazine, Bon Appetit, Electric Literature and elsewhere. Her short film, A Mukbang, was commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s Open Space. America Is Not the Heart is her first novel.

Roanna Gonsalves (Australian)

Roanna Gonsalves

Roanna Gonsalves is the author of The Permanent Resident, which won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award Multicultural Prize and was longlisted for the Dobbie Literary Award in 2018. Roanna was born and brought up in Mumbai, India. She attended St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, and came to Australia as an international student in 1998. Roanna was the UNSW Copyright Agency Writer-in-Residence in 2018.