Modern-day dating series: An award-winning novelist who grew up in a fundamentalist religion decided to look for a partner online. Here is the first in a weekly four-part series on her experiences - and it's a bumpy journey. Plus interview with critic, Arifa Akbar
Grace McCleen was raised in a fundamentalist religion and studied English Literature at Oxford and York Universities. Her first novel, 'The Land of Decoration' (published in 2012) won the Betty Trask award and the Desmond Elliott prize. Her second, 'The Professor of Poetry' (2013) was short-listed for the Encore award. Her third novel, 'The Offering' (2015), was long-listed for the Baileys prize. In 2016 she was writer in residence at the Bronte parsonage, producing a collection of poetry. In 2017 she taught at Manchester University. Her critical work has appeared in the TLS, Guardian, Independent, Observer, Telegraph and Financial Times.
Arifa Akbar is Head of Content at Unbound and editor of the long-form online magazine, Boundless. She is a journalist, critic, and the former literary editor of The Independent, where she worked from 2001 until 2016 as a reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She is a trustee of the Orwell Foundation and co-administers its annual book prize. She was most recently a judge for the Costa Biography Award 2017.