Bare Lit Festival 26-28 February 2016

Bare Lit is a brand new literary festival organised by Media Diversified, a non-profit organisation that cultivates and promotes talented writers of colour. The festival focuses solely on BAME writers in order to highlight the incredible contribution they are making to literature, and to challenge the poor representation that writers of colour have traditionally had at the UK’s largest literary festivals.

Saqi is extremely proud that two of our authors will be participating in Bare Lit’s programme:

Dean Atta, author of I Am Nobody’s Nigger, will be appearing in a panel on second generation poets in exile, alongside fellow poets Jane Yeh, Selina Nwulu and Khairani Barokka.

Courttia Newland, author of The Gospel According to Cane, will give the Royal Literary Fund Lecture, in which he grants the audience access into his manifesto of exploring fictional voice and celebrating self-expression in the work of British writers of colour.


Dean Atta is a writer and performance poet. He has been commissioned to write poems for the Damilola Taylor Trust, Keats House Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern. Atta won the 2012 London Poetry Award and was named as one of the most influential LGBT people by the Independent on Sunday Pink List 2012. An ambassador for the Spirit of London Awards, he lives in London and teaches writing workshops across the UK.

Courttia Newland is novelist, playwright and screenwriter. He has published 7 novels, amongst which the acclaimed works SnakeskinThe Dying Wish and The Scholar. He is the co-editor of IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain and The Global Village (with Monique Roffey). Newland was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Alfred Fagon Award and the Frank O’ Connor Award. He lives in London.


Panel: Second Generation Poets in Exile

Saturday 27 February at 3.30pm

Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road London EC1R 3GA

Tickets: £8


Royal Literary Fund Lecture

Sunday 28 February at 5pm

Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road London EC1R 3GA

Tickets: £8

Abdel Bari Atwan at the Mosaic Rooms

Join us for a special launch of the new paperback edition of Abdel Bari Atwan’s latest book, Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate, at the Mosaic Rooms on Thursday 12 November, 7pm.

Based on exclusive interviews with Islamic State insiders, Abdel Bari Atwan reveals the origins and modus operandi of the fastest-growing and richest terrorist group in the world. Outlining its leadership structure and strategies, Atwan shows how the group has masterfully used social media, Hollywood ‘blockbuster’-style videos, and even jihadi computer games to spread its message and to recruit young people – from Tunisia to Bradford.

As Islamic State continues to dominate the world’s media headlines with acts of ruthless violence, Atwan considers its chances of survival and offers indispensable insight into potential government responses to contain the IS threat.

The author will be in conversation with Professor Nabil Ayad, directer of the Academy of Diplomacy and Internal Governance in London.

Abdel Bari Atwan is a Palestinian writer and journalist. The former editor-in-chief of al-Quds al-Arabi for twenty-five years, he now edits the Rai al-Youm news website – the Arab world’s first Huffington Post-style outlet. Atwan interviewed Osama bin Laden twice in the late 1990s and has cultivated uniquely well-placed sources from within the various branches of al-Qa‘ida and other jihadi groups, including IS, over the last twenty years. His other books include The Secret History of al-Qa’ida and After bin Laden: al-Qa’ida, the Next Generation, and a memoir, A Country of Words: A Palestinian Journey from the Refugee Camp to the Front Page.


John McHugo at Waterstones Piccadilly

Waterstone’s Piccadilly and Saqi Books are delighted to invite you to 

Syria – at the crossroads of History with Diana Darke and John McHugo

Wednesday 22 October 2014, 7pm

Waterstone’s Piccadilly

203-206 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HD

Whether as Syrian citizens or international witnesses, how do we imagine the future of Syria? Rooted in a turbulent history and struggling with a troubled present, Syria stands at the crossroads.

In this evening’s talk, John McHugo, author of Syria: From the Great War to Civil War and Diana Darke, author of My House in Damascus: An Inside View of the Syrian Revolution combine forces to offer an insight into Syria past, present and future.

This event is free but please reserve your place by email:

Book launch: Syria by John McHugo

Syria’s descent into civil war has already claimed an estimated 150,000 lives while nearly nine million people have fled their homes. This is now the greatest humanitarian and political crisis of the twenty-first century. Why have Syria’s foundations as a nation proved so fragile, and why has the international community been so powerless?

Join John McHugo and Jonathan Fryer as they seek to unravel this tragedy by tracing the history of Syria from the First World War to the present. This event will also mark the publication of Syria: From the Great War to Civil War by John McHugo (Saqi Books).

Thursday 3 July 2014
7pm • Mosaic Rooms
A.M. Qattan Foundation
Tower House, 226 Cromwell Road
London SW5 0SW
FREE EVENT • RSVP essential

John McHugo is an international lawyer and historian, with over forty years’ experience of the Arab world. A board member of CAABU and a director of the British Egyptian Society, McHugo is also chair of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine. His previous publications include A Concise History of the Arabs. He has written for the BBC website, Chatham House’s The World Today, History Today and specialist international law journals.

Jonathan Fryer is a freelance writer, lecturer and broadcaster on international affairs. He writes for the BBC and the Guardian and lectures part-time at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies. His publications include histories of Iraqi Kurdistan and Kuwait.

The discussion will be followed by a Q&A and there will be an opportunity to purchase and have copies of the book signed by the author.

This event is FREE, but please reserve your place by email:

Syria Speaks at Waterstones Piccadilly

Waterstones Piccadilly and Saqi Books are delighted to host an evening of


Tuesday 17 June 2014
7pm • Waterstones Piccadilly
203-206 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HD
FREE EVENT • RSVP essential

Centred around a panel talk with novelists KHALED KHALIFA, SAMAR YAZBEK and ROBIN YASSIN-KASSAB, artist KHALIL YOUNES and filmmaker ZAHER OMAREEN, chaired by writer-editor MALU HALASA, this will be an evening of discussion and insight with film screenings to give us a glimpse into Syrian life.


This event is free, but please reserve your place by email:

Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen and Nawara Mahfoud, is published 16 June 2014, price £12.99.


Since the uprising began in March 2011, Syrian writers and artists have been creating work like never before, becoming their own publishers on the internet and forming anonymous artists’ collectives. Culture has become a critical line of defence against tyranny. Syria Speaks is a celebration of a people determined to reclaim their dignity, freedom and self-expression. Join Syrian artists and writers at events across the UK for readings and discussions on cultural resistance in the country. The line-up will include award-winning Damascus-based novelist KHALED KHALIFA, cinematographer and video artist KHALIL YOUNES, writer and filmmaker ZAHER OMAREEN, and authors MALU HALASA and ROBIN YASSIN-KASSAB.

These events will mark the publication of Syria Speaks, a unique anthology of uprising literature, art and culture, showcasing the work of over fifty artists and writers who are challenging the culture of violence in Syria. Their literature, poems and songs, cartoons, political posters and photographs document and interpret the momentous changes that have shifted the frame of reality so drastically in Syria. Moving and inspiring, Syria Speaks is testament to the courage, creativity and imagination of the Syrian people. These events will be a window onto these creative endeavours during this time of turmoil.

LONDON – Wednesday 11 June | 7.30pm | £4 (with music from the Raast Collective)
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Full details and to book tickets here

BRISTOL – Thursday 12 June | 6pm | £4
Festival of Ideas at Foyles Bookshop, 6 Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus, Bristol BS1 3BU
Full details and to book tickets here

OXFORD – Friday 13 June | 6.30pm | £5/£4
Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH
Full details and to book tickets here

LIVERPOOL – Saturday 14 June | 5pm | Free Event
Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, The Bluecoat,
School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BX
Full details and to book tickets here

BRADFORD – Sunday 15 June | 4pm | Free Event
FUSE Art Space, 5-7 Rawson Place, Bradford BD1 3QQ
Full details and to book tickets here

DURHAM – Monday 16 June | 6.30pm | Free Event (with Fadia Faqir)
School of Government and International Affairs, Al-Qasimi Building, University of Durham, Elvet Hill Road, Durham DH1 3TU
Full details and to book tickets here

The visiting authors will also take part in workshops with English PEN at schools, refugee community centres and a prison.

Download the Syria Speaks UK tour flyer here

These events are presented by Reel Festivals in partnership with English PEN, Saqi Books, LIFT Festival, Prince Claus Fund, CKU, British Council and the Arab British Centre. This project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen and Nawara Mahfoud, is published 16 June 2014, price £12.99.