Human Rights Watch
Virtual Book Club

This summer, Human Rights Watch is launching a new initiative: a series of virtual discussions that engage with today’s most pressing human rights issues through the power of literature and storytelling. Pairing leading authors with Human Rights Watch researchers, the series will provide a space to explore today’s pressing calls for social change around the world, touching on issues of race, identity, democracy and more, and featuring authors such as Afua Hirsch, Elif Shafak and Hisham Matar. 
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” — James Baldwin, 1963. 
From now until December, this book club series will offer you the chance to explore a range of human rights issues through the lens of award-winning novels and non-fiction, sent right to your door for all members. You will hear from Human Rights Watch along the journey, with our researchers offering comments on the books to help guide you through, and culminating in a virtual panel discussion for all series members and ticket-holders with the author of the book in discussion with a Human Rights Watch researcher whose expertise aligns with the subject matter. These virtual events will leave lots of room for discussion and Q&A, and we hope that you will join us. 
The first event, featuring best-selling author, barrister and journalist Afua Hirsch and Human Rights Watch's US Program Director Nicole Austin-Hillery, will take place on August 13th, from 6.30-7.30pm BST. The discussion will centre around Afua’s Sunday Times bestseller, Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging.
About the Book:

The Sunday Times bestseller that reveals the uncomfortable truth about race and identity in Britain today. You’re British. Your parents are British. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking where you’re from? We are a nation in denial about our imperial past and the racism that plagues our present. Brit(ish) is Afua Hirsch’s personal and provocative exploration of how this came to be – and an urgent call for change.

‘The book for our divided and dangerous times’ - David Olusoga

(Blurb from Penguin 2018)

About the Author:





Afua Hirsch is a writer, journalist and broadcaster. She regularly writes, reports and speaks on international current affairs, appearing often in the Guardian and on the BBC, Sky News and CNN, and has published two bestselling books, Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging, winner of the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Prize, and Equal To Everything, about the UK Supreme Court. Afua was a judge on last year’s Booker Prize and is currently the Wallis Annenberg Chair of Journalism at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.


In Conversation with:





Nicole Austin-Hillery is Human Rights Watch's inaugural U.S. Program Executive Director. Nicole leads Human Rights Watch’s efforts to end violations in abusive systems within the United States, with her work focusing in particular on improving the U.S.  immigration system, tackling race discrimination, rights problems within the domestic criminal justice system, and advocating for national security policies informed by international human rights standards.



And coming up next (dates to be announced shortly):

  • Elif Shafak & How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division  - End of September
  • Hisham Matar & The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land In Between  - Early November
  • A fourth bestselling author to be announced… - Mid December
Join Us

Each level includes a donation to support the work of Human Rights Watch. Your generosity allows us to send researchers into the field, to shine a light on human rights violations, and to apply pressure on those in power to make the kind of meaningful impact that protects rights and saves lives.

Advocate £25

  • Access this summer’s book club event, with special guests including the author and HRW researcher
  • Discount code to buy the book online via John Sandoe Books, available for international delivery and at the store
  • Note: This package is available to school and university students at just £3 per event

Partner £150

  • Full membership for the entire Book Club 2020 Series
  • Access all book club virtual events with special guests including the author and HRW researcher (live and recorded)
  • Receive your very own copy of each book at home one month before the briefings
  • Share thoughts on the books via an online discussion platform only accessible to members, and receive weekly comments on the book from HRW
  • This makes a great gift for friends and family – Partner Memberships can be purchased for others and delivered directly to their door’​

Global Defender £1,000

  • Full membership for the entire Book Club 2020 Series
  • ​Become a founding member by sponsoring the launch of HRW’s Book Club 2020​
  • Receive a written acknowledgement in recognition of your sponsorship
  • Exclusive access to pre-event intimate briefings with HRW researchers working on issues related to the books
  • Invite a friend to join you on this literary journey, with books and virtual events links delivered to them too
  • Access all book club virtual events with special guests including the author and HRW researcher (live and recorded)
  • Receive your very own copy of each book at home one month before the briefings
  • Share thoughts on the books via an online discussion platform only accessible to members, and receive weekly comments on the book from HRW

At Human Rights Watch, we are dedicated to creating a space that is inclusive to all. If you are keen to join the Book Club series but unable to afford a membership, drop us an email at We especially welcome applications from people who are on low incomes or currently receiving benefits, and/or people working to create change in their communities or around the world. Please let us know a little bit about yourself and why you want to join. Thank you.

If you have any further questions about Human Rights Watch’s Virtual Book Club, don’t hesitate to reach out to Robbie Newton at

Student Advocate
1 ticket
1 ticket
1 ticket
Gift a Partner Membership
1 ticket
Global Defender
1 ticket
Additional Donation