Meera Syal is an Indian-British actor and writer born on June 27, 1961 in Wolverhampton, England. As a child, she noticed she was the only Asian person in her school, and this division she felt between the rest of her peers was heavily influential in her works as novelist. Her first book, Anita and Me (1996), takes place in her hometown and she draws upon her own experiences as a teenager to inform the writing. After graduating from Queen Mary's High School, Syal attended Manchester University to study English and drama.
Syal’s career began with writing for television and film. She wrote the 1993 movie Bhaji on the Beach and was part of the BBC sketch show Goodness Gracious Me. In 1999, she published her second novel, Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee, which tells the story of 3 middle-aged Indian women living in London, England. Syal focuses on the difficulty of maintaining one’s cultural values while residing in a completely different country. Indian culture stresses the importance of a woman marrying a husband of high social status while English society emphasizes succeeding as an individual. The three main characters attempt to reconcile the values of their homeland versus the values of the land in which they live.
Upon its publication, Life Isn't All Ha Ha Hee Hee received positive reviews from audiences and critics alike. Jennifer Reese of The New York Times praises Meera Syal for “managing to get inside the heads of three very different characters, inspiring sympathy for both tricky, adulterous sirens and sari-clad housewives.” Because of the novel’s success, it was ultimately adapted into a BBC mini-series in 2005.