Bidisha SK Mamata (born Bidisha Bandyopadhyay, 29 July 1978), known professionally as Bidisha, is a British broadcaster and journalist specialising in international affairs, social justice issues, arts and culture and international human rights.
Publishing and broadcasting under her first name only, Bidisha began writing professionally for arts magazines such as i-D, Dazed and Confused and the NME at the age of 14 and published her first novel at 18. She writes for The Guardian and The Huffington Post and works as a TV and radio presenter for the BBC, presenting programmes such as Woman's Hour. She also does outreach work in UK detention centres and prisons, in affiliation with literary and human rights organisation English PEN.
Bidisha is an only child; her parents emigrated from India in 1972. She was educated at Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls, an independent school in Elstree in Hertfordshire, followed by St Edmund Hall at the University of Oxford, where she studied Old and Middle English. She then studied at the London School of Economics, where she gained an MSc in Moral and Political Philosophy and Economic History. She speaks English and Bengali.
Bidisha began writing for arts magazines i-D, Oyster, Volume, Dazed and Confused and the NME at 15, after launching a style fanzine at 14 as part of the riot grrrl movement. In 1995 at the age of 16 Bidisha signed a £15,000 book deal with HarperCollins. Her first novel, Seahorses, was published two years later, during her first year at university. During this time she also had regular opinion columns in The Big Issue magazine, The Daily Telegraph and the Thursday edition of The Independent newspaper. Bidisha's second novel, the thriller Too Fast to Live, was published when she was 21. Her third book, Venetian Masters - a travel memoir - was published in February 2008. She was a contributing editor of the women's literary magazine Sibyl and the style magazine 2nd Generation and has written for The Guardian, the Financial Times, Mslexia, The Observer, New Statesman and arts magazine The List.
International affairs were the subject of Venetian Masters (2008), which focused on Northern Italy, and Beyond the Wall (2012), a work of reportage from Palestine. In 2013 she became a Fellow of the International Reporting Project run by Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her role is to focus on international development issues as part of a global network of reporters. Her fifth book, Asylum and Exile: The Hidden Voices of London, is based on her long term outreach work with asylum seekers and refugees.
Bidisha was one of the judges for the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction and was announced as one of the judges of the 2010 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. She is a patron of the SI Leeds Literary Prize for unpublished fiction by Black and Asian women in the UK. Bidisha is a trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation.
In parallel with her writing, Bidisha has developed a career as a radio and TV arts critic and presenter. She is a regular guest on The Big Questions and Sunday Morning Live (BBC One), and also appeared as a regular panellist on BBC Two's Newsnight Review (BBC Two). For BBC Radio 4 she has contributed regularly to and presented Saturday Review, Front Row, Archive on Four, Heart and Soul and Woman's Hour. She was one of the regular presenters of BBC Radio 3's flagship arts programme, Night Waves.
On the World Service she was a guest presenter of the books programme The Word and was the regular presenter for The Strand. For Radio 3 and Radio 4 she has presented documentaries on Carl Jung, Iris Murdoch, the role of text in art (in Texting Andy Warhol) and The Countertenor. On TV she presented BBC Four's Secret Life of Books series edition on Jane Eyre and the Archive on Four documentary Mustn't Grumble, on complaining.