Noor Murad: ‘That’s what reading is: escapism’

In a very special live episode of the Women’s Prize podcast from Wilderness festival, our host Vick Hope caught up with Noor Murad, Head of the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen and co-author of Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love. Noor learnt to cook while growing up in Bahrain with an English mother and Bahraini father. She was inspired by the ‘chaos’ of the kitchen; her self-professed status as ‘miscellaneous’ in school, neither Arab enough nor English enough to fit into either crowd, saw her gravitating towards food, combining middle-eastern flavours with westernised styles. Noor has found comfort in food, and believes wholeheartedly in the power that food has to tell stories, evoking memories and nostalgia with every bite. In this episode, Noor discusses the five books that she turns to for escapism outside the kitchen…


One of a handful of graphic novels that elevate the form into an intensely personal artistic statement, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s astonishing…

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“If you read a novel like Persepolis you realise that there are so many people with their own stories and their own struggles, trying to navigate their way through whatever society puts on them … Persepolis is probably my favourite book.”

Oryx and Crake

Margaret Atwood’s classic novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, is about the future. Now, in Oryx and Crake, the future has changed….

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“Very dark and dystopian … [Margaret Atwod has] very wild, imaginative ways of describing the world … [she] talks about scientific advancement and how it went beyond humanity, almost.”

The Outsiders

From Penguin’s The Originals collection, The Outsiders is an outstanding story of teenage rebellion, written when the author was only 17. Teenagers…

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“I think it was my first insight into the socio-economic differences within society, and how they affected the ‘greasers’ and the ‘socs’. And I think it’s a story about love and loyalty because you have all these people … and things get out of control … they’re all just kind of sticking together. I really, really love this book.”

The Island of Missing Trees

It is 1974 on the island of Cyprus. Two teenagers, from opposite sides of a divided land, meet at a…

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“I read the whole thing in one sitting … It’s such an unputdownable book. It really, really resonated with me because I know so many stories about forbidden love in Bahrain.”

Three Women

All Lina wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a…

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“I don’t think there is a woman who could read Three Women and not relate in some way. It really kind of hones into the idea that a lot of women are not satisfied, but they internalise it in so many aspects of their life.”

To hear more about Noor’s Bookshelfie choices along with the delicious menu she cooked up at Wilderness Festival, listen to the full podcast episode. You can also find more brilliant book choices from other wonderful guests, such as Joy Crooks, Laura Whitmore and Adjoah Andoh, by subscribing to the Women’s Prize for Fiction Podcast.

The Women's Prize Podcast

Tune into host Vick Hope and a line-up of incredible guests on our weekly podcast full of unmissable book recommendations.