Thursday, December 13, 2018

Saqi to publish Raphael Cormack's book on women who created Egypt’s modern culture


Saqi to publish story of Cairo’s female cultural trailblazers in the early twentieth century

Saqi Books has announced that it has acquired the world rights to Martyrs of Passion: The Women Who Created Egypt’s Twentieth-Century Culture from debut writer Raphael Cormack. Publication is set for spring 2020. 

Raphael Cormack

"Martyrs of Passion tells the exciting, little-known story of Egypt’s entertainment industry in the inter-war period through the lives of its most prominent women," says Saqi. "In what was then the cultural centre of the region, singers were pressing hit records, new theatres and dramatic troupes were springing up everywhere, and Cairo’s cabarets were packed – a counter-culture was on the rise. In the bars, hash-dens, music halls and theatres of the roaring ’20s, people of all cultures, classes and backgrounds – Muslims, Christians and Jews – came together. A passionate group of eccentrics, narcissists and idealists strove to entertain the broad spectrum of Egyptian society.

"Women asserted themselves on the stage and behind the microphone like never before. Some of the biggest stars of Cairo’s stages were female. Two of the most famous troupes of the 1920s were run by women. It was in the 1920s that Oum Kalthoum, the legendary singer, first won her fame. And in the 1920s, the casino and dancehall owned and run by Badia Masabni became the hottest nightspot in town, and one of the early pioneers of Egyptian cinema, Aziza Amir, came up through the stage. These were women who were not afraid to fight for their rights."

Cormack's book is set among the theatres, cabarets, music halls and cinemas of Cairo, It will present a unique view of the cultural, social and feminist movements in early twentieth-century-Egypt, and show how this global scene laid the foundations of Arabic popular culture.

Raphael Cormack says, ‘I’m very excited to be able to tell the compelling and captivating stories of the women of Cairo’s interwar nightlife and entertainment industry. It is a world full of eccentric characters, revolutionary ideas and provocative art, that is little known among English readers. For me, Saqi is the perfect publisher to work with; they have long experience of publishing books on the Middle East and we share an understanding of what makes this history so important.’

Lynn Gaspard, publisher at Saqi acquired world rights directly from Raphael Cormack. She said, ‘Raphael has been a friend to Saqi for many years. I am thrilled to be working with him on Martyrs of Passion, which tells the riveting story of modern Cairo as we have never heard it before. Now is the time for Arab women to reclaim their place in herstory, and I’m very proud to be working with Raphael who in this book is celebrating these female cultural icons’ triumphs.’

Raphael Cormack has a first in classics from Oxford and a PhD in Egyptian theatre from the University of Edinburgh. He co-edited the first collection of Sudanese stories translated from Arabic, The Book of Khartoum (Comma Press). One of the stories in this collection won the Caine Prize 2017. He is also currently editing for Comma The Book of Cairo, which will appear next. He has written on Arabic culture for the London Review of Books, TLS, Apollo, Prospect and elsewhere.


Saqi says that for all rights outside the UK, enquiries should be addressed to  Elizabeth Briggs elizabeth@saqibooks.com


Thursday, December 06, 2018

Saqi Books announces that Sudanese writer Leila Aboulela wins Saltire Award

press release from Saqi Books

Elsewhere, Home by Leila Aboulela wins
Saltire Society Fiction Book of the Year Award

We are absolutely thrilled to share the news that Leila Aboulela has won the Saltire Society Fiction Book of the Year Award 2018 for Elsewhere, Home.

The winners of Scotland’s most prestigious annual book awards were announced on Friday 30 November at Dynamic Earth in
Edinburgh. Sarah Mason, the programme director for the Saltire Society, said: ‘This year’s awards are a testament to the outstanding calibre of modern Scottish literature in all its varied forms. Every one of the awards was hotly contested, making the judges’ decisions particularly challenging.’ Our extended congratulations to all the award winners.

A Guardian Summer Read, Elsewhere, Home deftly captures the search for home in our fast-changing world, offering a rich tableau of life as an immigrant. It is the most recent work by British-Sudanese writer and playwright Leila Aboulela, whose novels have been translated into more than fourteen languages.

To celebrate,
we’re offering 20% off Elsewhere, Home when ordered direct from the Al Saqi Bookshop. Simply enter Saltire2018 at checkout to claim your discount.
‘A lovely collection about love, loneliness and spirituality’
Nadiya Hussain, Good Housekeeping

‘A beautiful collection … There is so much quiet brilliance.’

The Observer

 
‘Thoughtful, wry, funny …
The deceptively quiet tales in Elsewhere, Home are barbed with tension and conflict.’
Scotland Herald


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