“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives…She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”
– Roald Dahl, Matilda (One of Onjali’s Most Favourite Books of All Time) –
Name: Onjali Q. Raúf
Born: Newcastle-upon-Tyne (so I’m a Geordie lass at heart!)
Loves: Tetley tea, exploring new lands (in person and in books), and my Harry Potter pyjamas. Oh, and chocolate. I couldn’t live without chocolate!
Dislikes: Unkind people, racism and Marmite.
What inspired you to write The Boy at the Back of the Class? The many refugee children I have encountered during my aid convoys to the ‘camps’ of Calais and Dunkirk (France). Most especially Baby Raehan, to whom the book is dedicated.
What would you change in the world if you could? Our world leaders. All of them. For kinder, more intelligent, and less narrow-minded people. And since I’m here changing things, I’d also like every parliament in the world to be made up of 51% children. Do you think we could make that happen?
Who’s your hero/shero? She-Ra, my mum, and every female author whose words opened my eyes to the world. From Mary Wollstonecraft and Rabia Al-Basri, to Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf and Maya Angelou.
Your favourite word: Scrumdiddlyumptious!
Your favourite book: I have about 300 favourite books, which include…
Want to read / watch / know more?
The following links to publications and videos will help you learn more about Onjali’s inspirations, motivations, and other tion-words which keep her writing and working.
Talk on TedxTalk Women, London, December 2019
See the video >>>
Q&A interview for The Financial Times (February 2020)
Interview in Time Out Kids, UAE (January 2020)
Nomination for BBC 100 Women (October 2019)
Interview in Middle East Eye (June 2019)
Interview in The Guardian (May 2019)