Sceptre is to publish a "powerful and timely memoir" by 26-year-old writer Zeba Talkhani entitled My Past is a Foreign Country.
Francine Toon, editor at Sceptre, acquired world rights to the debut book, which will publish in Spring 2019.
My Past is a Foreign Country embraces feminism within Islam and body positivity as Talkhani charts her experiences growing up in Saudi Arabia amid patriarchal customs and restrictive family dynamics, as well as living in India, Germany and the UK as a young woman.
As an Indian immigrant in Europe and the Middle East, Talkhani offers a "fresh perspective" on living as an outsider, as well as examining her relationship with her mother and the challenges she faced when diagnosed with early-onset baldness as a child. Rejecting the traditional path her culture had chosen for her, Talkhani journeyed abroad, became financially independent and married on her own terms in the UK. Using her personal experiences of being ‘othered’ and the significant impact hair loss had on her life, Talkhani explores how she fought for the right to her individuality and refused to let negative experiences define her.
Toon said: "I have long admired Zeba’s writing and her enlightening views on the world, so was delighted when we agreed to work together. For someone so young, Zeba Talkhani has experienced a great deal in multiple cultures and countries. Written with great power, insight and generosity of spirit, this is a book about learning to believe in yourself, when no-one else seems to.
"My Past is a Foreign Country holds a universal resonance and engages with wider political discourse while chronicling Zeba’s deeply personal journey. I am thrilled to be publishing such an exciting new writer at Sceptre and hope My Past is a Foreign Country inspires others."
Talkhani said: "I'm excited and honoured to be published by Sceptre and I'm especially looking forward to working with Francine Toon. Sceptre have engaged with my story with great care and openness. I'm looking forward to a chance to tell my story and reflect on my personal immigrant experiences in Saudi Arabia, Germany and England."
Talkhani is a writer and production editor with an interest in identity, feminism, intersectionality and social deconstruction. She has a BA in Journalism and Communication from Manipal University (India) and an MA in Publishing from Anglia Ruskin University. She lived in Saudi Arabia until the age of 17 before moving to India to pursue her bachelor’s degree. She completed her BA with a semester in Bremen, Germany. She then moved to the UK to study publishing.
Talkhani has previously written for Saudi Gazette, The Manipal Journal, Femsplain, gal-dem, Wasafiri, and the Nasty Women anthology (404 Ink).