focus on: saqi books

Saqi Books is a British publishing house that focuses on North African and Middle Eastern literature. Their range of publications is wide – from classics of Middle Eastern literature to cookbooks to political analyses. They’ve got it all.

  • They publish Nawal El Saadawi – and if that isn’t a sign of a top quality publisher, I don’t know what is. (She would be a great choice for Women in Translation Month. So get cracking, folks!)
  • There are also multiple anthologies, such as A Reader of Modern Arabic Short Stories, which looks fabulous, and Pashtun Tales.
  • Finally, one of their publications, Syria Speaks, was in the news recently. Hopefully this will only draw attention to this wonderful publishing house, as people buy the book to see what the fuss was about.

Since 2005, their range has also included translations from all over the world under their imprint Telegram. Once again, these range from not just Middle Eastern and North African literature, but also include Icelandic, Korean and Hungarian translations.

A couple of their publications that I cannot wait to get my hands on include:

  • Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life by Sayed Kashua. This is a collection of biographic essays that cover a huge variety of topics, including the Arab-Israeli conflict, literature, and fatherhood. Lauded for his humour and his empathy, this is a book that I would love to get my hands on.
  • The Hungry Ghosts by Shyam Selvadurai. A tale of the Sri Lankan civil war, and a family at war with itself, this follows Shivan as he ‘escapes’ to the West and is followed by the ghosts of his past…
  • Finally, I am hugely interested by Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East by Brian Whitaker. Although now a little out of date (as it was published in 2011), this looks like an honest, heartrending, but perhaps ultimately hopeful read.

A couple of honourable mentions include The Waterproof Bible by Andrew Kaufman and Virginia Woolf in Manhattan by Maggie Gee.

Have you read anything published by Saqi Books? I’m already impressed by the quality of their literature – and I haven’t even got started properly.


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