Durban writer, Priya Dala has won the accolades of being selected for one of the oldest and most prestigious Writers Residencies in the world.
The University of Iowa Fall Writers Residency brings together 20 to 30 of the World’s best-known writers and has been dubbed “The United Nations of Writers.” Previous participants selected have been artists such as Pieter Dirk Uys, Miriam Tlali and Marita Van der Vyver. Since its inception in 1967, the Residency has hosted 25 South African Writers amongst 1400 writers worldwide, and Dala is only the fifth female writer to be selected. She is also the first female writer from the South African Indian diaspora to attend the programme.
The programme includes presentations, podcasts, lectures and literary festivals that Dala will participate in, travelling across at least six US cities. The highlight will be an elective in Theatre Writing, where a play written by Dala will be put on a workshop platform in the United States, and the script will be fine-tuned with guidance from leading industry professionals in Theatre and Stage.
The play, written by Dala is a deconstructed adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet done to the particular Durban Indian context, and it highlights many social and colloquial themes in the society and the genre of Theatre.
The play was narrated and recorded as an audio file. Directed by Caroline Smart, it features performers Zahir Bassa, Yusuph Kadoo and Tash Reddy in key dual roles. Dala hopes to bring the play to the Durban stage, once it is refined in the United States.
Dala’s debut novel What About Meera was published by Umuzi in 2015. The novel was first prize winner in the Minara Aziz Hassim Literary Award and was long-listed for the Etisalat Prize, and The Sunday Times Literary (Barry Ronge) Fiction Prize. She has been featured in the Saraba Magazine, Nigeria and the novel has been chosen as one of the Top ten African novels of 2015 by Afridiaspora.
Dala has also been published in the Sentinel Literary Journal, Nigeria, and won first prize in the Annual Short Story Competition, Texas, USA. Dala has also published an article in the New York Times, focusing on South African Indian comfort food, and is preparing further submissions.
She has been second prize winner in the 2012 True Stories of KwaZulu-Natal, second prize winner in the Woman and Home Short Story Competition and finalist in the Elle Magazine Short Story Competition.
Her second novel, The Architecture of Loss has acquired World English Rights by Pegasus Publishers, New York City, and is currently being edited for release in 2017.
She is a member of PEN SA and is represented by the Pontas Literary and Film Agency in Barcelona.