Critically acclaimed author Ayisha Malik will host a talk at Surbiton Library Wednesday (May 8).

The event is taking place as part of City Read London's month of events throughout May being held to promote London, its libraries and the pleasures and benefits of book reading.

Ms Malik is a British Muslim who grew up in South London.

Her debut novel Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged (twenty7, 2015) received widespread acclaim on publication.

The 2015 page-turner was chosen as City Read London's book for 2019.

In conversation with the Surrey Comet, Ms Malik said she looked forward to discussing some of the book's utterly relevant themes in Surbiton on Wednesday.

"It's very London-centric so I'll be talking about the book and how it came about, about how it's kind of like a Muslim Bridget Jones — the main character is a Muslim, she wears a headscarf and the story follows her navigating her way around London in her professional life and her love life."

Also on the menu for the talk will be a look a Ms Malik's forthcoming new book This Green and Pleasant Land (Zaffre, 2019), which follows the attempts of a young British Muslim to build a mosque in the sleepy English village where he lives.

Ms Malik described how her own experiences influenced her writing.

"The social context in which you live absolutely has a knock-on effect on what you write.

"It's hard to write a book like that and not draw on ideas of identity and belonging. That's what home means.

"Coming from a Muslim background these are things that I wanted to explore in the wake of the rise of terrorism and Brexit," Ms Malik said.

"They've played a part in how Muslim's are perceived...a kind of duality with which we live — what parts of yourself are you meant to strip away in order to be acceptable to a wider community and society, and what kind of things are you allowed to cling on to," she added.

The City Reads tour sees the established author travel to a series of libraries and other literary venues in London and its surrounding suburbia.

Ms Malik said the tour had rekindled her love and appreciation for libraries more generally and hardened her belief in their value to society.

"I spent a lot of my childhood in my local library and to know that there's a space that celebrates reading and language, and these books are free—it's amazing! And to know that children and adults alike can transport themselves into a different world..."

It's something Ms Malik said she had been uplifted by since starting this tour.

"The staff and audiences have been so engaged. It's wonderful how passionate everyone is about reading and spreading ideas and, as a result of that, spreading empathy and understanding as well."

"I think it's obvious how essential that is and it's really sad that we've got so many libraries closing down because the work they do is amazing," she said.

Ms Malik's talk at Surbiton Library is scheduled for Wednesday (May 8) at 6pm.

For more information about the tour and City Read, go to:

This Green And Pleasant Land is out in hardback this June.