Meera Syal was born in 1963 near Wolverhampton in the West Midlands. Aware of her racial difference from an early age, Syal is proud of her Indian roots and culture. She was educated at Manchester University where she read English and Drama. In the final year of her drama degree, she co-wrote and performed in the play One of Us, which won the National Student Drama Award.
Since then Syal tried her best to combine writing and acting as her career. Today, apart from being an accomplished novelist she is also known for her acting work on radio and television, notably Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No 42.
At the age of 36, she wrote her first novel capsulating her childhood experiences of growing up in a small mining community. The novel, Anita and Me (1996) was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize and won a Betty Trask Award. Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee (1999) is her second novel.
Syal also wrote the script for Gurinder Chadha’s Bhaji on the Beach, a film that portrays a Birmingham-based South Asian women’s collective and their day-trip to Blackpool.
Did you know?
Meera Syal also works as a journalist and is a regular contributor to The Guardian. She is also patron of the British Independent Film Awards, created in 1998.
Meera wrote the plot for Bombay Dreams, the 4.5 million Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical.
She is all set to play the lead roles in the TV adaptation of her book Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee. The book is being turned into a three part primetime BBC1 drama.
Fact of Life
The other side
On Asian humour Syal
says: "Ours is like Jewish humour with a sun tan - warm, family-based. We share a lot of neuroses such as food, guilt, overachieving children and controlling mothers."
Of her roots Syal says
: "I hope to find things that completely surprise and delight me and give me and my daughter more of a sense of our place. I was a transplanted generation and I knew if I didn't understand my past, then I wouldn't be able to make sense of my future."
"I've got freedom fighters on both sides of the family - I'm quite proud of that!"