Lara Pawson was born in London, a city she left at sixteen for a hamlet in Somerset. For stretches, she has also lived in Abidjan, Accra, Bamako, Johannesburg, Luanda and an auberge in the Alpes-Maritimes. She is now back in London, firmly in its north-east corner, working on a novel.
She is the author of This Is The Place To Be, a fragmentary memoir which was published in September 2016 with CB editions. It is based on the long looping monologue, Non Correspondence, which was directed by Forced Entertainment’s Tim Etchells and performed by Cathy Naden at the Battersea Arts Centre for the London International Festival of Theatre 2014, After A War.
In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre (IB Tauris, 2014) was her first book. It was nominated for several awards and longlisted for The Orwell Prize 2015. It was translated as Em Nome Do Povo: O massacre que Angola silenciou (Ediçôes Tinta da China, 2014).
Her commentary, essays and reviews have been published in many places, most recently in the Times Literary Supplement, Verso, New Humanist and ArtReview.
From 2007 to 2008, Lara was a writing fellow at the University of Witwatersrand. In 2006, she was a press fellow at the University of Cambridge. Cautious of the academy, she has nevertheless given papers and appeared on panels at universities in Portugal, the US and the UK, including her old and much-loved college, the School of Oriental & African Studies (where she studied first for a BA and then an MSc in politics from 1990 to 1994).
Between 1996 and 2007, Lara worked as a journalist, mainly for the BBC World Service. She lived and travelled widely in Angola, Ivory Coast, Mali and Ghana, and also reported from Namibia, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Niger and São Tomé & Príncipe. During this period she also wrote for many other publications, including specialist press on Africa, mainstream newspapers and magazines and for the wires.
As well as making many programmes for the BBC, Lara has participated in numerous radio and television programmes in London, Lisbon, Luanda and Johannesburg.