5 Minutes with Moazzam Malik

5 Minutes with Moazzam Malik

Moazzam Malik is British Ambassador to Indonesia, ASEAN and Timor-Leste. He took up his post in October 2014.

Prior to his appointment as Ambassador, Moazzam was Acting Director General in the UK Department for International Development. He oversaw the UK’s engagement in the Middle East, Western Asia and led the UK relationship with multilateral organisations.

A born and bred Londoner, Moazzam is married with three children. Outside work, he likes to read novels, watch films and theatre, follow football (Liverpool FC) and cricket, cook South Asian food, and play golf (badly).


What was the last book you read?

I recently finished Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s beautiful novel, Between Clay and Dust, about love, honour and redemption in the fading world of wrestling and courtesanship. It was nominated for the Booker a few years ago. I’m currently reading Philip Roth’s brilliant The Plot Against America and also The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists’ by Khaled Abou El Fadl. Both books are profoundly important and relevant in these challenging times. But, more importantly, both are beautifully written, conveying big ideas in simple terms. Wonderful.

What do you read it on?

I still like to read books on paper. There’s something so comforting and familiar about paper. And flicking between pages is just so much more satisfying than scrolling screens!

Which writer would you have loved to have met and why?

I would have loved to meet Jalaluddin Rumi. He wrote with such amazing depth, beauty, and insight. I find it difficult to imagine what it might have like to know him. Would he have made me laugh or cry? Or left me feeling at peace or disturbed and challenged?

Tell us what you do in 20 words?

I build international connections to secure mutual prosperity, security. And maybe a bit more peace and happiness. 🙂

Which is your favourite bookshop or a bookstore and why?

I love book shops, both those selling new books and old. I find it a struggle to walk past without popping in to browse. In recent months I have enjoyed the Gramedia bookshop in Jakarta, Pioneer Books in Karachi, the Save the Children book shop in Woodstock and of course Daunt Books in Marylebone High Street.

What was your first job?

I was a paperboy in my early teens. It was pretty hard work getting up so early but also fun with the other young people – until I got sacked for trying to organise a strike for better wages.

What is the silliest thing on your desk?

I have a crazy yellow lightbulb stress ball. It’s silly but I like squeezing it. My visitors must think I am a very stressed person. But in fact I’ve been trying to build up my forearm to avoid tennis elbow!

Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?

Muhammad Ali. I grew up watching him box, listening to his brave, brash views, and jigging to his rhymes. Like so many growing up around me in 1970s Britain, Muhammad Ali was a huge inspiration – and still is.

Indonesia is The London Book Fair’s Market Focus for 2019, introducing the country’s “17,000 Islands of Imagination” to the international public and symbolising the intellectual and artistic richness of this incredibly diverse and multi-religious nation. Learn more about the programme here.

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