Saqi to publish erotic literature collection by Arab women writers

Saqi to publish erotic literature collection by Arab women writers

Saqi Books is to publish a "taboo-smashing" collection of work by Arab women writing about love and lust.

We Wrote in Symbols celebrates the works of 75 female writers of Arab heritage, to be published following a successful Arts Council England grant application by the anthology's editor, Selma Dabbagh. It will be Saqi Books' first title of 2021, publishing on 29th April. 

The synopsis explains: "It is a little-known secret that Arabic literature has a long tradition of erotic writing. Behind that secret lies another: that many of the writers are women. Here, a wedding night takes an unexpected turn beneath a canopy of stars; a woman on the run meets her match in a flirtatious encounter at Dubai Airport; and a carnal awakening occurs in a Palestinian refugee camp. From masked rendezvous’, to meetings in underground bars and unmade beds, there is no such thing as a typical sexual encounter, as this electrifying anthology shows. Powerfully conveying the complexities and intrigues of desire, We Wrote in Symbols invites you to share these characters’ wildest fantasies and most intimate moments."

Publisher Lynn Gaspard acquired world rights from Karolina Sutton at the Curtis Brown Group.

Commenting on the work, Dabbagh said: "We Wrote in Symbols celebrates the nuance, passion, humour, integrity and self-assertiveness of Arab women writers throughout history. Saqi is London’s oldest Arab publishing house, one that brings English readers the history, wisdom and surprises of the past while forging dynamic, new spaces for the future. Not a collection for the faint-hearted, We Wrote in Symbols could only have been compiled with this independent female-led publishing house, who could approach the subject matter with the sensitivity and vision it requires."

Gaspard said: "Many of the women whose work features in We Wrote in Symbols faced imprisonment, exile and exclusion: one woman, Jariyat Humam ibn Murra, was put to death after reciting the poem in this collection, and Salwa Al Neimi’s recent European hit Proof of the Honey was banned in every Arab country in the Middle East. But as this ground-breaking collection—masterfully introduced and contextualised by Selma Dabbagh—shows, eroticism is key to explorations of society and self-discovery. Why the silencing? Now is the time to celebrate love, sex and the sensual in all its written forms. I can’t think of a better, bolder, more necessary book to kick off our 2021 publishing programme."