Harvill Secker has snapped up an "ingenious" cultural history of eyeliner by Zahra Hankir.
Senior editor Ellie Steel acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in Eyeliner: A Cultural History from Sabila Khan on behalf of Penguin US, for publication in 2023.
The publisher said: “Eyeliner will take readers on a global and historical odyssey to explore the ubiquitous but seldom-examined object tucked into so many make-up bags. Beginning in pharaonic Egypt with Nefertiti, the heretic queen whose kohl-rimmed gaze redefined beauty, Hankir traces an undulating line to India, Japan, Iran, Jordan, Chad, and New York, from political prisoners to Instagram influencers, offering up an eye-opening analysis of eyeliner’s transformative power.”
Hankir writes about the intersection of politics, culture, and society in the Middle East. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Vice, BBC News, Al Jazeera English, Businessweek, Roads & Kingdoms and Literary Hub. Her first book, Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World (Harvill Secker), was awarded the Susan Koppelman Award for the best anthology in feminist studies.
She commented: “I cannot wait to take readers on a journey with me to explore how eyeliner has impacted the world, across centuries and cultures, and to share the profound meaning behind an often-overlooked object that may be dismissed as trivial by many. I’m particularly excited about amplifying the contributions of people of colour to the beauty industry, a space which has historically favoured white, Western beauty norms and customs, while appropriating or cherry-picking specific aspects of Black and brown beauty and beautification. As this book will demonstrate, there is far more to eyeliner than meets the eye, pun very much intended.”
Steel added: “I was so impressed by Zahra’s phenomenal editorial eye and curation for Our Women on the Ground, and couldn’t wait to see what she’d do next. Zahra has struck gold with Eyeliner. It’s a fun, ingenious prism for brilliantly researched, impeccably reported, accessible and enlightening stories of world histories and cultures. Talking about the book at Vintage, I’ve found myself rhapsodising about eyeliner’s importance, and the fervour it inspires in people is all part of the book’s magic."
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