Saqi to continue 'on smaller scale'

Saqi to continue 'on smaller scale'

Saqi Books is to press on with its English-language publishing programme, following a strategic review which saw it lose six members of staff.

Publisher Lynn Gaspard is now the only remaining staff member, with the others leaving between April and October last year.

The independent publisher announced in February 2014 that it was reviewing the future of its English-language publishing programme, after facing what it called "an uphill struggle" in the UK. The business said it was seeking investment and would consider a takeover, if the deal was right "for the company and our authors".

Gaspard said the business would now operate on "a much smaller scale", without external investment, but with a plan to grow again within the next five years. "There was a bit of interest from our friends [in investment], but in the end, this has made the most sense for us," she said.

The family-owned business was originally founded by Gaspard's parents more than 30 years ago, with a sister company in Beirut, Dar al Saqi, as well as a London bookshop, Al Saqi Books, in Bayswater. Saqi Books, which will now publish 10 titles in 2015, will operate from the bookshop.

Gaspard said: "There has perhaps never been a greater need for critical, considered and progressive thinking from and about the Middle East. For over thirty years, Saqi has broadened access to important works written in Arabic and other languages, promoted awareness of cultural diversity in the UK and encouraged communication and debate between the Arab world and the West."

Titles lined-up for 2015 include anthology of Arabic literature, Desert Songs of the Night, and an updated edition of Ian Rutledge's Enemy on the Euphrates: The Battle for Iraq. Saqi has also acquired world English language rights to Prix Goncourt and International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award-winner Tahar Ben Jelloun's novel About My Mother from Gallimard, which will be published in 2016.

Saqi is represented by Yale Representation in the UK, Durnell in Europe and Consortium in the US, as well as Faber Factory for its e-books.