An evening with Burhan Sönmez and Elif Shafak

Waterstones Piccadilly, Tuesday 22 November, 7pm

Following an attempted coup, there has been an intensified crackdown on freedom of expression and the free press in Turkey. Many prominent journalists, academics and novelists have been prosecuted and arrested, with some forced into exile.

Amid political volatility, Turkish literature is key to understanding the country’s past, present and future. Join us for an evening of lively discussion about the role of language and literature in times of uncertainty with Turkish writer and campaigner Burhan Sönmez and award-winning novelist Elif Shafak.

The event will mark the publication of Sönmez’s Istanbul Istanbul (trans. Umit Hussein) – a deeply moving novel about the power of storytelling and the relationship between pain and the human imagination. The event will be chaired by Rosie Goldsmith.

This event is free but please RSVP in store, by telephone 020 7851 2400 or by email piccadilly@waterstones.com


Burhan Sönmez, who grew up in Anatolia and is of Kurdish origin, is an internationally prize-winning novelist whose works have been translated into over twenty languages. A former human rights lawyer, Sönmez founded the social-activist cultural organisation TAKSAV (Foundation for Social Research, Culture and Art) and has written on literature, culture and politics for various newspapers and magazines. He was seriously injured following an assault by Turkish police in 1996 and had to receive treatment in Britain, where he remained in exile for several years. He now lectures at METU University in Ankara and lives in Istanbul.

Elif Shafak is the award-winning author of ten novels including The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love. The most widely read female writer in Turkey, she is also a political commentator and an inspirational public speaker. Her books have been translated into more than forty languages and she has been featured in major publications including the Financial Times, Guardian and Time magazine. Elif has been longlisted for the Orange Prize, the Baileys Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Award, and shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the RSL Ondaatje Prize. She lives in London.

Rosie Goldsmith is an award-winning journalist specialising in arts and current affairs. In 20 years at the BBC she travelled the world, covering events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of apartheid in South Africa, presenting flagship BBC programmes Front Row and Crossing Continents. Rosie has chaired European Literature Night at the British Library ever since it began in 2009 and runs the European Literature Network.



Tahar Ben Jelloun at Waterstones Piccadilly

Join distinguished French-Moroccan novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun in conversation with Ros Schwartz and Maya Jaggi for what promises to be a fascinating evening of discussion.

The event will mark the publication of About My Mother, an evocative portrait of a mother and her son, exploring themes of love, loss, illness and memory. This poignant and compelling novel is also a powerful account of the hardships endured by women in Morocco.

Regularly shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tahar Ben Jelloun is an internationally bestselling novelist, essayist, critic and poet. His many publications include This Blinding Absence of Light, The Sand Child and Racism Explained to My Daughter.

Join Tahar Ben Jelloun in conversation with internationally renowned translator Ros Schwartz and award-winning cultural journalist and literary critic Maya Jaggi for this brilliant Saqi Books Salon!

This event is free but RSVP is essential either in store, by telephone 020 7851 2400 or by email piccadilly@waterstones.com

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BOOK LAUNCH: Morbid Symptoms by Gilbert Achcar

Event to mark the publication of Gilbert Achcar’s Morbid Symptoms: Relapse in the Arab Uprising. Since the first wave of uprisings in 2011, the euphoria of the “Arab Spring” has given way to the gloom of backlash and a descent into mayhem and war. The revolution has been overwhelmed by clashes between rival counter-revolutionary forces: resilient old regimes on the one hand and Islamic fundamentalist contenders on the other. Focusing on Syria and Egypt, Achcar assesses the present stage of the uprising and the main obstacles, both regional and international, that prevent any resolution.

Gilbert Achcar is Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at SOAS, University of London. His publications include The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder (2002), published in 15 languages; Perilous Power: The Middle East and US Foreign Policy (2008), with Noam Chomsky; the critically acclaimed The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab–Israeli War of Narratives (2010); and The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising (2013).

Tuesday 4 October 2016, 5:45 pm
Venue: Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Paul Webley Wing (Senate House), SOAS, University of London, Russell Square WC1H 0XG
Organiser: London Middle East Institute
Admission: Free (all welcome)
Contact email: vp6@soas.ac.uk
Contact Tel: 020 7898 4330/4490


PEN Atlas presents: The view from Turkey

Under President Erdoğan’s authoritarian rule, press freedom in Turkey in 2016 is at an all-time low. News agencies and papers have been shut down or taken over by the government, while everyone from journalists to comedians is facing criminal defamation or terrorism charges.

What is it like to be a Turkish writer in these times? In a special PEN Atlas panel event, Telegram novelist Burhan Sönmez, journalist-author Ece Temelkuran,  and translator Canan Marasligil discuss the main issues of the moment through a literary lens with Maureen Freely, President of English PEN.

Monday 19 September, 7pm
Tickets: £5 – £7
Venue: Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA
Book now


Sara Khan at Waterstones

Across Britain, Muslims are caught up in a battle over the very nature of their faith; with media focus often on extremists. Sara Khan has spent the past decade campaigning for tolerance and equal rights within Muslim communities and is now engaged in a new struggle for justice and understanding to counter Islamist-inspired terrorism.

Join Sara Khan and counter-radicalization consultant Tony McMahon in conversation with Nick Cohen (author, political commentator and columnist for The Observer) this evening as they reveal why this is happening and what we, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, can do about it.

This event is free but please reserve your place in store, by telephone 020 7851 2400 or by email piccadilly@waterstones.com


Edinburgh International Book Festival 2016

Edinburgh International Book Festival is just around the corner, and we are thrilled to see some of our own authors in attendance. The full programme (of over 800 authors!) can be browsed on the EIBF16 website here, but tickets and information about Saqi events below.

Wed 17 Aug 10:15am – 11:15am The Spiegeltent £12.00, £10.00

Meet two of Europe’s most talented novelists. Icelandic novelist Sjón (author of The Whispering Muse, From the Mouth of the Whale and The Blue Fox) discussed his highly anticipated new novel Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was (Sceptre) about a young gay man’s experience in 1918 Iceland. Swedish writer Steve Sem-Sandberg’s The Chosen Ones follows his towering novel The Emperor of Lies in describing brutality and tenderness in the Nazi era – this time in a home for sick children in Vienna. Tickets.

Sun 28 Aug 12:30pm – 1:30pm Garden Theatre £12.00, £10.00

Tahar Ben Jelloun, Morocco’s greatest living author, presents a compelling novelisation of his mother’s life, newly translated into English. About My Mother beautifully and tenderly tells the story of her descent into dementia. Meanwhile, Irenosen Okojie’s Butterfly Fish is an astonishingly assured debut novel about a mother whose death leaves a striking legacy and a route into the history of Nigeria and ancient Benin. Tickets.

Sun 28 Aug 6:45pm – 7:45pm Baillie Gifford Main Theatre £12.00, £10.00
Sponsored by University of Edinburgh

Human rights campaigner and one of Woman’s Hour Top Ten Influencers of 2015, Sara Khan has spent two decades fighting for tolerance and equal rights within Muslim communities. In The Battle for British Islam, she writes of the young men and women who have been radicalised and talks today about how the cycle of extremism can be broken without further alienating UK Muslims. Tickets.