Category Archives: Author Focus

Sir Mohinder Dhillon – His Camera, His Life

Photo: Citizen

In the last week of January, I went to visit my girlfriend at work. I’d never been and didn’t know exactly who she worked for. After getting lost she decided to wait for me on the side of the road and we drove back to her workplace. She gave me a book and told me it was written by her employer and invited me in to meet him. Would I say no?

We walked into this beautiful, cosy and warm home, which was also where his office was. Behind the desk sat a friendly-looking octogenarian, with a walker next to his desk, which he explained was to help him move around since he had had an injury after a bad accident years ago. I thanked him for the book and told him I’d give him feedback.  

I looked around the open space and against one side of the wall was a bookshelf and at the top sat a vintage film camera, and that’s when I fully understood the title of the autobiography in my bag – My Camera, My Life. Excited to see my girl after so long, I hadn’t really taken a proper look at it.

I had the privilege of sitting down with him behind his desk and go through the manuscript (from beginning to end) of his now published coffee table book that showcases his photographic oeuvre. Pages and pages that display his craft, energy, fear, bravery and how through his lens he ran a thread of politics, war, and celebrations of prominent political figures across the world.

Amongst many of the figures he photographed are Wangari Maathai, Jomo Kenyatta, Robert Mugabe, Julius Nyerere, Idi Amin, Kipchoge Keino, Mau Mau leaders, Tom Mboya, James Gichuru, Muammar Mohammed Gadaffi and Pele. These are only a few of the people whose photographs, stories and events he captured and who form a collection of work that made an incredible and legendary work of photographic and storytelling art.

On Monday, the 9th of March, Sir Mohinder Dhillon passed away after a short illness.

I am so grateful to have had that wonderful peek into his thrilling, 60-year long career in photojournalism and film documentary. It was a great experience to be around someone who lived so fully and with vigour and courage and has so much to show for it and to leave behind. I look forward to reading his biography, My Camera, My Life and the rest of his work.

Rest in peace, Sir Dhillon.

Read more about him on Mohinder Dhillon

Author Focus: Crime Writer, Timothy Williams

Timothy Williams was born in Essex in the London borough of Walthamstow in 1946. He grew up loving typewriters and while still at primary school typed his own magazine. More than twenty five years later, he was finally able to buy the electrical typewriter of his dreams, an Olivetti Praxis. However he soon gave up the Olivetti for an Apple IIe, after he realised that a computer was a better tool for his creative writing.

He went to Chigwell School in Essex. After two years of moral philosophy and French at the University of St Andrews, he graduated in French.

He taught in the Caribbean, France, Italy and Romania before settling in Guadeloupe in 1980 where he spent 28 years teaching at the state lycée in Pointe à Pitre, the island’s biggest town.

Williams’s first Italian novel, Converging Parallels, was published in 1982. This novel was followed by five more books in the Commissario Piero Trotti series. In the early eighties, at a time when, in Guadeloupe and Martinique, terrorist bombs were going off and the independence movement was in the headlines, it took Williams two years to write his first Caribbean book. Gollancz, his British publisher, informed him the manuscript was unpublishable. An English speaking audience could understand the byzantine workings of Italy but not the racial and political niceties of the French Caribbean. The book was revised several times but it was not published until 2011, when he submitted the French manuscript to Payot Rivages in Paris. Un Autre Soleil is the first Anne Marie Laveaud novel. The English translation was subsequently published by Soho Press in New York as Another Sun in 2013.

The second Caribbean novel, The Honest Folk of Guadeloupe, was published in English in 2015.

Timothy Williams has had a long and successful writing career. In 1992 the fourth Trotti novel, Black August, won a Crime Writers’ Award. In 2011, the Observer placed him among the ten best modern European crime novelists.

Williams retired from teaching in 2011 and now spends his time between the Caribbean, Africa and Norwich, UNESCO city of literature. He visits Kenya regularly and while in Nairobi for the Storymoja Hay Festival, he had the pleasure to meet the Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor before the horrific terrorist attack at Westgate Mall.