The Channel: A Podcast from the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS)
The Craft of Nonfiction with Tom Robertson
This episode features a conversation about the mechanics of writing well. Tom Robertson is a scholar at Kathmandu University in Nepal. Trained in history, Tom’s academic research focuses on international development, with a special emphasis on the environment. Our conversation on The Channel, however, focuses on a different dimension of Tom’s work. During Covid-19, Tom launched two initiatives aimed at teaching practical writing techniques, particularly in nonfiction genres. The first of these initiatives is a free series of YouTube videos called Mitho Lekhai. Each video in the series presents tips for clear and effective writing. The second initiative is called Writing Journeys, a series of essays by prominent Nepali journalists and authors about the craft of writing. Tom’s mission to teach writing emerged in the particular context of Nepal, and he delivers his YouTube series is primarily in the Nepali language. Nevertheless, as he makes clear in our conversation, the tips and strategies he describes are useful for students, academics, and professionals working in any language. In this episode, we talk about these initiatives as an entry point into a discussion of the art of nonfiction more broadly.