My Anglo/Indian event @ Abingdon Library on Thursday 21 and great feedback.

Drawing on my experience – from which I created my novel Sculpting the Elephant – l’ll explore the dilemmas of identity in mixed- race relationships. Doors open at Abingdon Library  at 7 pm on Thursday 21 November for Bombay Sapphire and Pakoras and a taste of England too . My talk starts at 7.30. All welcome .

Abingdon Library:  The Charter, Abingdon. OX14 3LY Tel: 01235 520374

Thursday Nov 21 7 for 7.30:  Tickets available on door £2 include Anglo/Indian refreshments.  

Signing and Selling at Kennington Book Fair (Kennington Village Centre) Saturday Nov 30 10 am-1

Green Fair Oxford (with Oxfordfolio) @ Oxford Town Hall  Sunday Dec 1 from 10am-4 pm.

I gave a similar talk at McGill University (Montreal) on October 30. Among the audience was a distinguished Professor of Computing. His 60th birthday was honoured by his research community with a three-day symposium, called Prakash Fest, held at Oxford University. Kerelan born Prakash made a comment that made me realise that I had got the character of Ramma right in Sculpting the Elephant. He said Ramma going alone to Oxford is rare. An Indian PhD student at McGill insisted to him, ‘I am here by myself for myself. I am not a wife!’ He said that was unusual because most female masters students accompany their husbands. I wanted Ramma to be a strong and independent woman but for readers to realise that was harder for her than for most Western women. I wanted Ramma to be like his PHD student!

Caroline Foulk – co- author of Picasso’s Revenge has just finished reading it and says

‘Sculpting the Elephant is a joy and the story is a unique gateway to Anglo-Indian culture – such an interesting flashpoint of cultures, and so rich with a sense of art and history. It reminded me of my joy for stories such as Jewel in the Crown. I hope I managed to capture my enthusiasm for it.’

Feed back  about this talk from the fundraiser at Watlington Library CHAIRMAN OF TRUSTEES Dr Anna Tilley

The Friends of Watlington Library were delighted to welcome back accomplished local author Sylvia Vetta last week to talk about her recently published second novel, Sculpting the Elephant, an engaging love story set across two different cultures. Inspired by her own personal knowledge of marrying her Indian husband in 1960’s Britain and the challenges they faced, Sylvia pitched her talk around the very topical issue of Mixed- Race relationships, whilst deftly interweaving the creation of her two protagonists into her words. Sylvia is an eloquent and assured speaker and spoke movingly about her own experiences; a topic that is increasingly relevant in our multicultural society. Her talk was extremely personable and whilst offering an intimate insight into an important relevant issue, was entertaining and excellently pitched and provoked a number of questions from the floor and a real interest in reading what is a wonderful novel.

This was a second visit, following her talk on Brushstrokes in Time, a talk and book that were also extremely well received, and we look forward to hearing her speak on her next novel.







Events coming up very soon

Friday 30 August: the Ashmolean: I’ll be guiding a tour of visiting Chinese academics. I’m calling it ‘ Crossing Cultures ;Crossing Time’ and emphasising how ideas and inventions  spread from East to West and from West to East’ .  I am happy to repeat it.

Tuesday September 10: Walton Manor WI (7.30 ) St Margarets Church  Polstead Rd. (I believe non members are welcome)

Wednesday September  11: Goring Library .6pm

Both these talks will be on mixed relationships and Sculpting the Elephant (See Watlington Library poster)

Saturday September  14  West Wimbledon Society

How I cast away 120  amazing people



Saturday June 1 – The final day in Antiques on High !

Join me for prize winning quiz , signings ,  fizz and a surprise

Antiques on High (Oxford)  opposite Queens College   3.30-5pm

Friday  June 7- Watlington Library

Talk on Mixed Relationships

Sunday 16 June :  Second London Launch

Anglo Indian high tea with entertainment RSVP to me please





The anniversary of the Shakespeare in Oxford project – Oxford’s own Romeo and Juliet – Joe and Zara


Today is the anniversary of the Shakespeare in Oxford project. It was hard work for Polly and I raising the money, bringing together the young people and organising the three days of workshops and filming  but these young people are amazing don’t you think –  so thoughtful? (See video link  below the pics)  The scene where Joe and Zara fall in love- they are acting in West Side Story! This concerns Polly’s re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet . Eve Ahmed  movingly reflected on the authenticity of it.  Given the turbulence of our world in 2019 we need  to ‘only connect’ even more !

Weimin He kindly designed the logo and sketched on the final day and Philip Hind organised the filming. This pic is of Victor Glynn, Polly and I  promoting the project to young people.

In Sculpting the Elephant , Harry and Ramma face obstacles but not life and death ones as in Joe and Zara.

Weimin He kindly designed the logo and Philip Hind organised the filming. He has just made a video  for me to show at the launches of Sculpting the Elephant.

My new talks topic – a more personal one.

The Friends of Watlington Library are fortunate in their poster designer – Ross Speirs. He made a great poster for my talk there about Brushstrokes in Time. I must have done okay because they have asked me back. Its open to anyone so if any Oxfordshire friends are interested -do come along. Watlington use talks like mine to fundraise for their community library.  Tomorrow they have none other than Philip Pullman so I’ll have a hard act to follow!  I had hoped to go to that one but I am booked to talk about Brushstrokes in Time and China at Long Hanborough.

What do you think of this poster?

More Launches: Sculpting the Elephant @Antiques on High

The Launch of Sculpting the Elephant at Antiques on High

Sylvia Vetta’s second novel Sculpting the Elephant is inspired by her own life experiences in a mixed marriage and in a twenty year career in the art and antiques trade.  You are invited to explore the ideas behind Harry King’s shop Deco-rators with the author Sylvia Vetta and  with Caroline Henney – vintage jewellery expert at Antiques on High and one of the inspirations for the character of Kathy in Sylvia’s novel.

Thursday May 2 @ 4.30pm : Sylvia will be in Antiques on High for sales and signings. There will be the opportunity to take part in a fun antiques hunt quiz and a Deco prize will be awarded to the winning entry.  (In the case of more than one –there will be a draw.  )

At 5 pm there will be a short video about Sculpting the Elephant and some archive material from the world of art and antiques in Oxford will be on display.  Caroline and Sylvia will talk about the book and guide visitors around Antiques on High pointing out relevant twenties and thirties objects fashion and jewellery. For those who would like to continue conversation with Sylvia, Caroline and other interesting guests they will cross the road to St Mary’s and everyone is welcome to join them for

TEA @ the VAULTS approx 5.30.

 Monday May 13: Sylvia will be in Antiques on High for conversation, reminiscence and book signings from 3.30- 5pm

Saturday June 1: The finale of the May Sculpting the Elephant theme in Antiques on High Sylvia will be present from 2.30-4.30 pm. She will give away copies of features she wrote on Deco and we will raise a glass at the end!

The View from Antiques on High- Queens College to the left and Teddy Hall to the right


The view from St Mary’s: The charming Vaults cafe  where we will have tea is in the ground floor.



Audiobooks panel at Oxford Brookes and a thorny issue – Cultural Appropriation- my experience

Tonight I’ll be on a panel @ Oxford Brookes University discussing audio books. Catherine O’Brien the CEO of Essential Audiobooks is over here from New York and  will be the principal speaker. I have been asked to give the point of view of an author. I plan to describe my journey to the printed book, the audio book and the amazing voice of Caroline McLaughlin who despite the name is of Chinese ancestry I’ll talk frankly  about  a particular problem the audiobook of Brushstrokes in Time encountered.

I understand and sympathise with the origins of the idea of ‘cultural appropriation’ – when minority voices find it hard to get a hearing but as with acting, I believe that writing and casting should be COLOUR BLIND. I sympathised with British Chinese actors who saw Chinese  parts  which could go to them given to others of another background.  Recently their confidence has grown as Sandra Ho was cast as Eve in Killing Eve and suddenly there are more Chinese actors appearing in non-type cast roles. That’s how it should be!

When I was writing Brushstrokes in Time  at the same time, in Montreal, Madeleine Thien was writing Don’t Say We have Nothing. There are many things our novels have in common: the locations, the Cultural Revolution playing an important part, the muse – in Madeleine’s book it is music and in mine the visual arts. There’s an inter- generational story. I love her book but people who have read it sing the praises of BIT too. The difference between us is  that she is Canadian and I am English and the colour of our skin.

The material in my novel has as much but probably MORE authenticity than hers. Why?

Thanks to Qu Leilei. I interviewed the founder of the Stars Art Movement over three years. Leilei was present in Tiananmen Square in 1966 when Mao launched the Cultural Revolution to over a million teenagers. He was present in Tiananmen Square in 1976 when the people rebelled and mourned ZhouEnlai. He was on the Stars March to Tiananmen Square in 1979. He was present at the trial of Democracy leader Wei Jingsheng. His father Qu Bo was one of the most popular authors pre Cultural Revolution. Madame Mao turned a part of Tracks in the Snowy Forest into her model opera Tiger Mountain  .His father knew  Mao , Zhou  Lin Biao  etc. The stories which form the historical  background  to BiT were unique and authentic.

Agents  told me that  despite BIT being  well written, fascinating and  a  page turner  they wouldn’t be able to sell it as I am NOT Chinese.  Madeleine’s experience was completely different. It was talked about and reviewed by the great and good and was short listed for the Booker Prize.  Surely  what should matter is the quality of the writing and not how the author looks!




To buy copies of Oxford Castaways 2
Go to
and click on the cover image.