About My Mother receives PEN Promotes Award

We are pleased to announce that About My Mother by award-winning Moroccan novelist, essayist and playwright, Tahar Ben Jelloun, has been awarded a PEN Promotes Award.

Ben Jelloun’s novel, described by English PEN as ‘an evocative tribute to his mother and his homeland of Morocco’, is one of four titles to receive the award. The other recipients are Alpha: Abidjan–Gare du Nord by Sandrine Bessora and Stephane Barroux, The Sorrows of Mexico by Lydia Cacho and The Winterlings by Cristina Sánchez-Andrade.

Originally published in French by Gallimard (2008), About My Mother is a delicate portrait of a woman and a world left behind, exploring themes of love, loss, family and illness, reliability of memory, and the subjugation of women in post-war Morocco. Written in tender and compelling prose, the novel has been translated by Ros Schwartz and Lulu Norman and will be published by Telegram in July 2016.

This is the final round of the PEN Promotes awards scheme in its current form, supported by Bloomberg. The PEN Promotes award has supported 95 books in ten years, including Three Sisters by Bi Feiyu, translated from Mandarin by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-Chun Lin, The Lady from Tel Aviv by Rabai al-Madhoun, translated from Arabic by Elliott Colla, and The Ministry of Pain by Dubravka Ugresic, translated from Croatian by Michael Heim. The grant will be redeveloped in consultation with publishers, venues and retailers.

Dar Al Saqi wins Sheikh Zayed Book Award

We are thrilled to announce that our sister company, Dar Al Saqi, has won the prestigious Sheikh Zayed Publishing and Technology Award 2016. The judges praised Dar Al Saqi for having adopted, since its establishment in London in 1979, a ‘broad-minded cultural project’ and for having published ‘a wide spectrum of serious books in thought, science, and art’.

The Beirut branch of Saqi Books was founded in 1987 by Andre Gaspard, and has since made a name for itself as publisher of progressive and ground-breaking works, as well as the best in new Arabic literature and non-fiction. Several of its publications won awards in various categories covered by the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

Amongst the other categories of this year’s award, Egyptian Roshdi Rashed, author of Al-Khwarizmi: The Beginnings of Algebra (Saqi Books, 2009), was awarded the Arab Culture in Other Languages Award for Angles et Grandeur, a study of the concept of angle and its relation to Archimedean and non-Archimedean theories of measurement.

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award, now in its tenth year, commemorates the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, Founding President of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi from 1966 until his death in 2004. The award is presented to outstanding writers, intellectuals and publishers, as well as young talent whose writing and translation in humanities objectively enriches Arab intellectual, cultural, literary and social life.

Saqi acquires Native by Sayed Kashua

Saqi Books has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights to Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life by Sayed Kashua.

Kashua is an Israeli-Palestinian writer best known for his satirical weekly column for the Israeli daily Haaretz and his novels Dancing Arabs and Let it be Morning (shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award).

Native gathers together for the first time a selection of personal essays, first published by Haaretz between 2006 and 2014, exploring questions of identity, cultural divides and the deeply-rooted complexities of a tragic conflict, alongside witty and intimate depictions from his personal life as both a father and husband. Kashua writes with poignancy and candour about his children’s upbringing and encounters with racism, as well as the rising social and political tensions that led him to emigrate from Jerusalem to the United States in 2014.

Sarah Cleave, publishing manager of Saqi Books, who acquired rights from Abner Stein in association with the Deborah Harris Agency, said ‘Native is a wickedly sardonic, moving and hugely entertaining collection that offers real insight into the lived experiences of Palestinians in Israel. Written by one of the true masters of the form, this ostensibly light-hearted book is a nuanced and enlightening critique of Israeli society that exposes the difficulties of living as a Palestinian in the Jewish state.’

Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life will be published by Saqi Books in April 2016.

Sara Khan included in Debrett’s 500 list 2015

We are pleased to announce that Sara Khan, author of The Battle for British Islam has been included in Debrett’s list of Britain’s 500 most influential people 2015. Celebrating personalities as diverse as Tracey Emin, Hilary Mantel and Sir Richard Branson, the list recognises people of influence and achievement in British society.

Sara has been nominated in the prestigious War and Peace category, as she has campaigned for women’s rights in British Muslim communities for over 20 years. In 2009 she co-founded the charity Inspire, which aims to empower women to challenge extremism and gender inequality. September 2014 saw the launch of her #makingastand campaign which drew the support of the Home Secretary. Sarah is currently working with teachers across the UK to advise on the role schools have in preventing children from being drawn into terrorism.

In her forthcoming book, The Battle for British Islam, Sara outlines how to break the cycle of terrorism without alienating British Muslims, while challenging the government’s failure to engage with British Muslims in order to strengthen our communities.

The Battle for British Islam will be published by Saqi Books on 6 October 2016.

Malu Halasa at the Festival of Questions

‘Syria represents the epicentre of global conflict in 2015. Should military intervention increase in the region to solve matters? Do other strategies for ending the conflict exist?’

Malu Halasa, joined by Robin Yassin-Khassab and Simon Mabon, will be exploring these issues at the Festival of Questions in a talk entitled ‘The War in Syria: How Should the World Respond?’

Malu Halasa is an editor, write and curator, whose books include Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline and Creating Spaces of Freedom: Culture in Defiance.

The Festival of Questions is a three-week programme combining special events, panel discussions and cultural projects investigating the current social, economic and political climate. It runs from 2nd to 20th February 2016.


The War in Syria: How Should the World Respond?
Saturday 6 February at 3.30pm
The Music Room, The Storey, Meeting House Lane, Lancaster LA1 1TH
Adult £13
Concession £11.70
Under 26/ Student £9
For more information or to buy tickets, click here.

John McHugo to appear at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature

John McHugo, author of Syria: A Recent History and the critically-acclaimed A Concise History of the Arabs, will be appearing at the 2016 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature to give a talk entitled ’14 Centuries of Arab History’.

John McHugo is an Arabist, international lawyer and Senior Fellow at the Centre for Syrian Studies at St Andrews University. His writing has featured in History Today, The World Today, Jewish Quarterly and on the BBC News website.

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is a programme of literary debates, readings and workshops bringing authors and readers together to celebrate education and debate. It runs from 28 February to 12 March 2016.

Event 95: 14 Centuries of Arab History
Saturday 12 March at 11.30am
Venue TBA
Tickets £13

For more information or to buy tickets, click here.