Shappi Khorsandi

Shappi Khorsandi

Born in Tehran, Shappi Khorsandi was bought up in London after her family fled Iran following the Islamic Revolution as her satirist father, Hadi, criticised the Ayatollah.

She started comedy around 1997, and made her first appearance at Edinburgh in 2000 – as part of a triple-hander show with Russell Brand and Mark Felgate.

She made her solo debut in 2003, returning in 2006 and 2007 – the year she was nomianted for best breakthrough act at the Chortle Awards.

She has appeared on a number of Radio 4 programmes, including Quote... Unquote, Loose Ends, You and Yours, Midweek, Just A Minute, The Now Show and The News Quiz.

A book about her childhood experiences of growing up in London in the Seventies is due to be published in spring 2009.

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Shappi Khorsandi withdraws from book prize

'I felt my skin colour was up for an award'

Shappi Khorsandi has pulled out of a book award for ethnic minority writers because she didn’t want to be judged on her skin colour.

Yesterday Chortle reported how her debut novel, Nina Is Not OK, was up for the Jhalak Prize for the book of the year by a writer from a Black, Asian, or minority ethnic background.

But as soon as the news broke, the Anglo-Iranian comedian pulled out of the race.

She said she was ‘massively flattered’ to be included but added: ‘I have respectfully withdrawn my book from this longlist, despite the incredible company it was in.’

She told her 150,000 Twitter followers: it was ‘because my novel is nothing to do with ethnic identity. Felt like my skin colour was up for an award rather than my book’.

Khorsandi’s book is about a 17-year-old with an alcohol problem, and is described by publisher Ebury Press as ‘darkly funny and sometimes shocking’.

A dozen titles were on the shortlist, which spans all genres, including fiction, non-fiction, short story, graphic novel, poetry, and children’s books.

In November, awards founder Sunni Singh said publishers were ‘pathetic’ for not publishing enough books by writers from black, Asian, or minority ethnic backgrounds.

Chortle has approached Ebury for comment.

Click here to read our review of Nina Is Not OK and here to buy it.

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Published: 6 Jan 2017

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