Two sisters from South London have been working on their novel for many years, writes Davina Hyde.
Recently long-listed for the Bath Novel Award, Ambreen and Uzma Hameed’s critically-acclaimed two-book novel Undying has been called “The Bronte sisters Four Lions”.
The book is a dark comedy about sibling rivalry, passion and ancient magic, with a story featuring two sisters from Balham who have grown up in a British Muslim family.
Uzma Hameed said: “When we were kids we grew up in Norbury and South Norwood.
“We both loved writing. As siblings we had a secret society called the Yeti Club where we would read our work to each other.
“The whole object was to make each other laugh until we cried.
“Writing Undying together was a bit like a grown up version of the Yeti Club.”
Ambreen Hameed said: “We enjoyed giving the novel roots in 1990s South London.
Ambreen and Uzma Hameed as children
“Some key dramatic scenes take place in West Norwood Cemetery, an extraordinary location which we had both always wanted to explore properly.”
Undying has received accolades from big names including journalist and former chairman of judges for the Man Booker International Prize Boyd Tonkin, who described the book as huge fun.
He said: “Sitcom-style comedy and affectionate satire deepen into a mystery that explores what unites and divides us, and asks how art, science and religion try to make sense of a violent and unjust world.”
Ambreen and Uzma grew up in South London, and went to Norbury Manor Infants school before attending the Old Palace School in Croydon.
Having lived in South London all their lives, Ambreen is now in the Brixton area, and Uzma in the Croydon area and both sisters have careers in arts and media.
Uzma has a background in theatre and dance, most recently working on the award-winning Woolf Works at the Royal Opera House.
Ambreen is a producer/director in factual television for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.
Undying is their first collaboration together.