Biography

Alba Arikha was born and raised in Paris, in an artistic household. Her father was the painter Avigdor Arikha, her mother is the poet Anne Atik. She studied the piano for many years before turning to writing. She completed her BA in comparative literature between the US and Paris, which also included a stint in film scoring, at the Ecole Normale de Musique.

A year in New York working for an art gallery, was fodder for Alba’s first novel, Muse, which she completed after studying for an MFA at Columbia University.

After completing her degree, she moved to London where Muse and her following book, Walking on Ice, were both published by Macmillan, under her former married name, Alba Branca.

Stories from that collection were published in Open City magazine. One of them, The Yellow Slippers, is part of the 2011 anthology ‘Stories from 20 years of Open City.’

Various of her other stories and articles have also appeared in Tatler magazine, Antique and New Art, the Journal of Art and the Indian Quarterly. Alba’s translations have appeared in the New Republic, the Other Press and Prada. She was also involved in the translation of the French bestseller, ‘Indignez vous!’ by Stephane Hessel, published by Charles Glass books, and is a contributor to Spear’s magazine.

During this time, Alba returned to piano composition and recorded a CD of songs based on French poems. After a performance at the Miller’s Academy in 2007, she began writing her own songs, which culminated in an album, ‘Dans les rues de Paris’, available on Amazon and Tune Core. She has performed those songs at the Paradise By Way of Kensal Green, in London, the Theatre de la Vieille Grille, in Paris, and at Roux at the Pembury, as part of the Jazz After Dark evenings, sponsored by Jazz FM.

In 2010, while working with Arab and Israeli musicians, Alba organised the concert of the Maktub Ensemble at the Bloomsbury Theatre, in London, as a way of promoting peace and coexistence.

Alba has recently completed a memoir, Major/Minor, published by Quartet Books. It was shortlisted for the 2012 Spear’s Awards, and has been selected among the Best Books of 2012 in the New Yorker.

It was published in Italy in February 2013 by Bollati Boringhieri, as ‘Te lo dirò un altra volta, and by Berlin Verlag in Germany, in 2014, as ‘Wörterbuch einer verlorenen welt.’

She has written an opera with her husband, which was performed in August 2013, at the Tête-a-Tête opera festival at the Riverside Studios, in London. The narrative poem on which it is based, ‘Soon,’ was published by CB editions in September 2013.

She is a member of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and the Society of Authors, and was a 2013 fellow at the Santa Maddalena Foundation. Since 2012, she has been teaching creative writing . She’s worked with adolescents at the French Lycée, First Story and the West London Free School. In 2014 she taught her own workshop at Persephone Books, with fellow novelist Jenny McPhee. More recently she has taught Guardian masterclasses in short fiction as well as a summer creative writing class inspired by painting, at the Royal Academy of Art.

Alba is married to the composer Tom Smail. They live in London with her two children.