Two Dar Al Saqi titles win Sheikh Zayed Book Award

Announced today that not one but TWO Dar Al Saqi books have won the Sheikh Zayed Book Award: Khareef al Bara’a (The Autumn of Innocence) by Lebanese author Abbas Beydoun and Al Islam wal Insan (Islam and the Human Being) by Mohammad Chahrour from Syria. Congratulations to Dar Al Saqi, Abbas Beydoun and Mohammad Chahrour.

Saqi to publish photographic record of the refugee crisis by Giles Duley

Saqi Books have acquired I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See: Photographs from the Refugee Crisis by award-winning British photographer Giles Duley.

In October 2015, Giles Duley was commissioned by the UNHCR to document the refugee crisis. Over the next seven months, Duley was to criss-cross Europe and the Middle East, visiting fourteen countries to tell the stories of individuals and families forced to flee their homes. He chronicled the turmoil of Lebanon, the camps of Jordan and Iraq, the hellish scenes on the beaches in Lesvos, the arrival or refugees in Germany and their resettlement in Finland.

Bringing together over 200 original photographs, I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See shows that even in the midst of such horror and tragedy there is also humour, the unexpected and above all humanity. The book will also include an essay by Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack, which have used Duley’s images in their live shows to draw attention to the crisis.

Saqi will publish an English language edition on 20 June 2017 to mark World Refugee Day. The book will also be published simultaneously in Arabic by Dar Al Saqi in Beirut. All profits made from the sale of both editions will go to the UNHCR’s refugee work.

Saqi Books Managing Director Lynn Gaspard acquired world rights from David Godwin Associates Ltd and will be selling translation rights at Frankfurt.

Gaspard says, ‘Giles Duley’s arresting photographs of families on the shores of Europe and in camps in the Middle East are taken with great sensitivity. They document one of the most devastating tragedies of our time. We can often feel powerless in the face of such overwhelming tragedy. I hope that, in our small way, we can help to make a positive change with the publication of these powerful, heartrending photographs.’

Duley says: ‘Beyond the staggering figures and vast scenes currently witnessed, this project is about the stories and humanity of those caught up in the current refugee crisis. In many ways my work shows the ‘banality’ of normal life among the chaos of tumultuous events. I believe there is where we find empathy and understanding and hopefully through that, a desire to help. I’m looking forward to working with Saqi to bring this project to the widest possible audience.’

About Giles Duley

Giles Duley was born in 1971 in London. After ten years as an editorial photographer in the fashion and music industries in both the Europe and the US, where he photographed the likes of Kings of Leon, Oasis, Mariah Carey, The Black Crowes, Lenny Kravitz and Christian Bale, Duley now uses his camera to document the lesser-known stories of human suffering and resilience deserving of public attention and action. Working with charities such as Medecins Sans Frontiers, IOM and the UNHCR, he has made trips to war zones including Angola, Ukraine, South Sudan and Bangladesh. In 2011, whilst working in Afghanistan, Duley stepped on an IED and lost three limbs and nearly his life. Duley survived, however, and resumed his photographic work less than 18 months later. In 2015 Duley launched his most ambitious project to date, Legacy of War, a five-year assignment documenting post-conflict communities around the world. He is also making a second film for C4’s Unreported World on Acid Burns attack survivors in Bangladesh. From October 2015 until June 2016 Duley was commissioned to document the refugee crisis for the UNHCR. Duley’s work has been exhibited and published worldwide in many respected publications including Vogue, GQ, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Sunday Times, The Observer and New Statesman.

International Translation Day discounts

International Translation Day is celebrated every year on 30 September on the feast of St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators. To mark ITD 2016, we are offering a discount of up to 50% on some of our best selling Telegram titles in translation. Orders can be placed via Al Saqi Bookshop throughout October on any of the below titles:

About My Mother, Tahar Ben Jelloun (trans. Ros Schwartz and Lulu Norman)

For Bread Alone, Mohamed Choukri (trans. Paul Bowles)

The Blue Fox, Sjón (trans. Victoria Cribb)

Metropole, Ferenc Karinthy (trans. George Szirtes)

No Word from Gurb, Eduardo Mendoza (trans. Nick Caistor)

Jamilia, Chingiz Aitmatov (trans. James Riordan)

The Fall of the Imam, Nawal El Saadawi (trans. Sherif Youssef Hetata)

The Lady from Tel Aviv, Raba’i al-Madhoun (trans. Elliott Colla)

From the Mouth of the Whale, Sjón (trans. Victoria Cribb)

While the Shark is Sleeping, Milena Agus (trans. Brigid Maher)

The Ministry of Pain, Dubravka Ugresic (trans. Michael Henry Heim)

The Old Man and his Sons, Heðin Brú (trans. John F West)

Memoirs of a Midget, Walter de la Mare

Three Sisters, Bi Feiyu (trans. Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin)

The Whispering Muse, Sjón (trans. Victoria Cribb)

Songs My Mother Never Taught Me, Selçuk Altun (trans. Ruth Christie and Selçuk Berilgen)




JOB VACANCY: Publishing Manager

Publishing Manager
Salary – competitive

Saqi Books, an independent publisher of books on the Middle East and literary fiction in translation, is seeking a highly organised and experienced publishing manager to help oversee all aspects of the publishing process from commission to publication.

Working closely with the publisher, you will help to expand our publishing programme and deliver tailored sales and marketing campaigns for frontlist titles. The role demands strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as an ability to work well under pressure on a variety of projects. This is an exciting opportunity for a candidate with an interest in the politics, history, art and literature of the Middle East.

The key responsibilities for this role include:

• Managing publishing plans for frontlist titles, ensuring that deadlines and budgets are met.
• Preparing tailored marketing plans for the frontlist, as well as strategies to promote the backlist.
• Building relationships with key customers, as well as growing existing business streams and managing direct sales.
• Managing ebook programme, including rights acquisition, conversion and promotion through online aggregators.
• Representing the company at book fairs, events and sales conferences.

The successful candidate will have:

• Three or more years’ experience in trade or academic publishing.
• The ability to multitask and work to strict deadlines with accuracy and flair.
• Excellent creative and editorial skills, as well as a keen eye for detail.
• Strong IT skills – experience with all basic Microsoft Office packages (Word, Excel etc.), Adobe Creative Suite, as well as content management systems and email marketing solutions.
• Confidence to manage a wide range of projects and a busy workload.
• Experience using social networking and online media as marketing tools and in organising speaker events, book launches and promoting projects to general public.

Please send your CV, cover letter and current salary details to Lynn Gaspard,

Closing date: 14 October 2016

Sabrina Mahfouz to edit anthology of writing by British Muslim women

We are delighted to have acquired world rights to Hear Us Now: Writings by British Muslim Women, edited by Sabrina Mahfouz.

Hear us Now brings together the works of over twenty women writers of Muslim heritage, from established literary heavyweights, such as Adhaf Soueif, Leila Aboulela and Kamila Shamsie, to young emerging artists currently leading the way on the UK’s spoken word scene, such as Asma Elbadawi, Amina Jama and Nafeesa Hamid.

Edited by award-winning poet and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz, Hear Us Now showcases the talent and tenacity of Muslim women writers in Britain today. It includes new poetry, fiction and prose exploring questions of love, identity and belonging, as well as immigration and the rights of women.

This anthology is a creative call to arms for Muslim women in Britain, with an aim of encouraging the next generation of writers. An extensive PR campaign will be planned on publication, with events and readings in bookshops, theatres, community centres and women’s shelters, as well as a series of writing workshops for Muslim women and girls throughout the UK, in collaboration with Arts Council England.

Lynn Gaspard, publisher, said ‘We’re very excited to be working with Sabrina Mahfouz, and proud to be publishing such exceptionally talented women writers. This will be a vitally important anthology, especially in light of the terrible rise in hate crimes against Muslim women in this country. I hope that Hear Us Now will help widen the discussion about what it means to be a Muslim woman today and encourage more women to express themselves without fear of discrimination.’

Hear us Now: Writings by British Muslim Women, edited by Sabrina Mahfouz will be published by Saqi Books in April 2017.

Saqi responds to Faziah Shaheen incident

The Independent reported today that a British Muslim NHS worker, Faziah Shaheen, was detained under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act on 25 July following suspicions about the book she was reading. Ms Shaheen was reading Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, published by Saqi Books in 2014. This extraordinary anthology brings together the work of over 50 Syrian artists and writers, and is  testament to the courage, creativity and imagination of the Syrian people.

Lynn Gaspard, publisher and managing director, Saqi Books, said:
“Syria Speaks is a book that represents everything Saqi Books, as a Middle East interest publisher, has sought to champion over the years: it celebrates freedom of expression and creativity in the face of horror and oppression. The anthology was supported by the Prince Claus Fund for Art and Culture in Amsterdam, CKU, the British Council, the Arts Council, English PEN and the Arab British Centre, among others. It received glowing reviews and endorsements from Brian Eno and AL Kennedy, who described it as ‘a wise, courageous, imaginative and beautiful response to all that is ugly in human behaviour.’

I am in this business because I passionately believe in the power of words to affect change. However, our government seems to have taken the old adage ‘the word is mightier than the sword’ a bit too literally. We have to do our outmost to ensure that books and other art forms are protected from censorship. I feel sorry for Faizah Shaheen who should not have been singled out for reading Syria Speaks – if Faizah gets in touch I would be happy to invite her to our bookshop in West London and offer her any of our titles.”

Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, said:
“Thomson Airways should be highly embarrassed about this gross act of misjudgment. The current culture of anxiety around extremism now means that even our reading material has become grounds for suspicion of terrorist activity. The freedom to read any book, no matter the subject, is a fundamental cornerstone of our liberty. No one should ever be detained or questioned by the police on the basis of the literature they’re reading.

Syria Speaks is one of the most remarkable books to have been published since the uprising in Syria in 2011. It gives a remarkable insight into Syrian culture, celebrating the undaunted spirit of the Syrian people. It’s highly ironic, and deeply disturbing, that possessing a work that showcases one of the few remaining areas of freedom for the Syrians, the creative space, should lead to the detention of a British Muslim citizen.

This case also highlights the continuing problem of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, under which the police can detain individuals without grounds of suspicion of involvement in terrorism or other criminal activities. It is overdue for reform.”

Zaher Omareen, co-editor, Syria Speaks said:
“This despicable incident reflects the deep and widespread misunderstanding towards Syria today. It shows how far stereotypes influence our cities under the otherwise understandable security and terror concerns. Judging individuals and even taking measures against them based on their race, their looks, their language, or the printed words they carry is unacceptable and unjustifiable.

It was enough to carry a book which includes the word ‘Syria’ in its title for its owner to be under suspicion as a potential terrorist. I would like to remind the people and the government that Syria must not be reduced to the politicised and power-constructed sound bites carrying simplistic messages of violence and horror. This systematic misrepresentation distorts the common humanistic meaning which we all hold against oppression and tyranny across the world. Syria is no exception. It is a country desperate to heal and find peace, in order to become more culturally enriched and enlightened than ever, thanks to its numerous artists and cultural thinkers who are represented in a modest sample in my seemingly notorious book, Syria Speaks. Syria is not an accusation. And we, the Syrians, must not be constantly under suspicion.

The UK government speaks of integration, tolerance, and understanding the ‘other’. This is indeed a pressing and inevitable process for a democratic, modern, and multi-cultural society. However, it can never happen without reading about the other, not through outlets of mainstream misrepresentation, but through the words of the other. This is a right we should take for granted in a democracy and must not need to defend it.

I stand in solidarity with Faiza Shaheen who faced this humiliating situation because she carried a book on Syria. We must learn from this incident to make sure that no one faces similarly hideous situations in the future.”

Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, edited by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen and Nawara Mahfoud was published by Saqi Books in 2014.