Analysing second generation immigrants
This article is from 2007.
Child prodigies are fascinating. Standing out from the crowd, kids with remarkable mathematical powers are often pushed into the limelight, but do their lives pan out any better? Or does the abnormal childhood scar them? This is the subject for Nikita Lalwani’s excellent debut, Gifted. Rumi is a second-generation immigrant, born and raised in Cardiff to Indian parents, with exceptional maths abilities. But as she matures and is accepted into Oxford aged 14, things start to unravel. ‘It was something I was interested in from a young age,’ says Lalwani. ‘I think that fascination was linked with the second-generation immigrant thing and wanting to do well. The feeling that if you stood out, you’d be safer, or at least noticed, otherwise you’re invisible.’
Lalwani wasn’t a child prodigy herself, but she has an impressive CV nonetheless. Dropping out of Medicine at Oxford, she got a degree in English Literature at Bristol, followed by a high-flying BBC career directing factual programmes. The urge to write always nagged, though, and eventually she gave up her comfortable position to concentrate on writing full-time. ‘That was a great leap of faith,’ she says. ‘You need to take the jump and leave everything, because you can’t write a novel half-heartedly.’ (Doug Johnstone)
Recommended Reading: Sparks is an anthology which features her early tale ‘The Memory Stick’.
21 Aug (with Nury Vittachi), 6pm, £5 (£3).