Zia Haider Rahman was born in a mud hut in a village in Bangladesh and moved to England with his family, living first in a squat before being housed in a council estate (social housing). After attending a north London comprehensive (state-funded) school, Zia took a first class honors degree in mathematics, as a college scholar, from Balliol College, Oxford, and was also a scholar of Stiftung Maximilianeum, a German foundation for gifted students. He continued study at Cambridge and Yale Universities and holds postgraduate degrees in mathematics, economics and law, and was awarded the highest merit scholarship at the English bar. After a brief stint as an investment banker with Goldman, Sachs, he worked for several years as a corporate lawyer, anti-corruption activist and international human rights lawyer. He holds only British citizenship.
Zia is a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, a 2019 Walter Jackson Bate Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University; a Fellow at New America, Washington, D.C.; a Senior Fellow at the Kreisky Forum, Vienna; a 2018 affiliate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University; and has been appointed a Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He was a Visiting Professor in the low residency MFA program in Fiction and Non-Fiction at Southern New Hampshire University, after being awarded an honorary doctorate there. He is a contributor to BBC Radio 4’s A Point of View and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, and elsewhere. Zia serves or has served on many application committees for American or international fellowships and has been appointed a judge for a number of prizes including the Neustadt Prize and English PEN’s Pinter Prize.
In the Light of What We Know, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2014 to international critical acclaim and won the prestigious James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 2015, Britain’s oldest literary award, previous winners of which include EM Forster, DH Lawrence, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Rose Macaulay, Nadine Gordimer, Salman Rushdie, Lawrence Durrell, Jonathan Franzen, JM Coetzee and Iris Murdoch. The novel won or was shortlisted or long-listed for many other prizes. It appeared in many end of year lists of best books and has been translated into over a dozen languages.
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