Sunday, October 06, 2013

Saqi Books events at Nour Festival focus on Arab history, sexuality, art and fiction

Saqi Books, a "proud partner" of the Nour Festival of Arts: Contemporary art, film, literature, music and performance from the Middle East and North Africa is organising three literary events for the two-month Festival which was officially launched on 1 October.
The Festival, spearheaded by the Council of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and involving some 36 partners, is taking place in more than 20 venues in the borough. It offers six art exhibitions, 16 film screenings, 15 talks and debates, 14 performances across dance and drama music and poetry, four evenings of special events, three cookery classes, eight workshops, the Pop-Up Souk and the Nour Tour Bus .
On 15 October at 18.30 at Kensington Central Library John McHugo talks about his work A Concise History of the Arabs, published recently by Saqi Books. McHugo is an international lawyer and Arabist, with over forty years’ experience of the region. He has worked as a lawyer in many Arab countries, notably Egypt, Bahrain and Oman. 
His book deals with the political, social and intellectual history of the Arabs, from the Roman Empire to the present day. His talk will cover the mission of Prophet Muhammad, the expansion of Islam, medieval and modern conflicts, the interaction with Western ideas, the struggle to escape foreign domination, the rise of Islamism and end of the era of dictators. A Q and A session will follow. The talk is part of the London History Festival.
"Does the Arab Spring Need a Summer of Love?". This is the topic of a discussion on taboos and changing sexual mores in the Arab world,  to be held at the Mosaic Rooms at 19.00 on 6 November.
The discussants are eminently equipped to discuss the subject. They are Shereen El Feki, author of Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World, Brian Whitaker, author of Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East, Daniel L. Newman, Professor of Arabic at Durham University, translator of works of Mediaeval Arabic Erotica, and  Malu Halasa - co-author of The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie: Intimacy and Design.

During the summer the Saqi imprint Telegram published the novel The Lady from Tel Aviv, by Palestinian Raba'i al-Madhoun. The author and his translator Elliott Colla will discuss the book and give bilingual readings at an event chaired by Rosie Goldsmith to be held at the Mosaic Rooms on 21 November at 19.00. The Lady from Tel Aviv was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) in 2010. The translated book received an English PEN Writers in Translation Award.
In addition to its three literary events, Saqi is also involved in the the Pop-Up Souk, and the Nour Tour Bus events. Its bookshop in Westbourne Grove is one of five Arab-related cultural institutions in the Royal Borough to which private visits will be made by passengers aboard the Nour Tour Bus on 9 November, from 10.00.
Al-Souk, to be held from 14 November to 1 December, is the first-ever Arab Arts and Design pop-up boutique. It will take place in Notting Hill, in the Graffik Gallery at 242 Portobello Road and the Tabernacle Gallery in Powis Square.
Susannah Tarbush