Farewell to the Horse: The Final Century of Our Relationship

“Engaging, brilliantly written and moving, this book is a discussion of what horses once meant to us. Cities, farmland, entire industries were once shaped  as much by the needs of horses as humans. They were sculpted, painted, cherished, admired; they were thrashed, abused and exposed to terrible  danger. From the Roman Empire to the Napoleonic Empire,  every world conqueror needed to be shown on a horse.

Ulrich Raulff ’s book, a bestseller in  Germany , brilliantly translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, is a superb monument to the endlessly various creature who has so often shared and shaped our fate.”

(from the Penguin Random House 2016 Rights Guide)

I’m nervously and excitedly awaiting next year’s publication of this huge and engrossing book which took up most of my energy and time this year. It has been an enormous privilege to work on.

Title: Farewell to the Horse: The Final Century of Our Relationship

Author: Ulrich Raulff

Translator: Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Publisher: Allen Lane, forthcoming June 2017 


Sacrifice – a German crime thriller

I’m reading a lot of crime fiction but this book stands out among them all. The narration is so rich that even when the novel is at is most gruesome I did not dare put it down. I just learned Hanna Winter has 5 other novels published in German and can’t wait until they are all translated as well!” Amazon review

“It will be interesting to see where this series goes. Lena shows great deal of potential as a character and I love the setting of Berlin. I was drawn to her and her side kick. This is definitely worth a read, if you are in the mood for a serial killer thriller. Amazon review

Title: Sacrifice

Author: Hanna Winter

Translator: Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Publisher: Manilla Books (Bonnier Zaffre)

Publication date: e-book 30 June 2016, paperback 17 November 2016


Bottled up by Basma Abdel Aziz

‘I could wander aimlessly from one colleague’s office to another, stopping here and there for a chat, maybe a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. I’d sit back with a carefree yawn, my notebooks and files piled up in front fo me, gnawing on a pencil that splinters between my teeth. I wouldn’t bother with any correspondence or with responding to any queries, no matter how pressing. Instead I’d gaze on idly as the people wait, crushed by their exasperation. But why should I feel the need to do anything about it?’ Extract from Bottled Up, published in Index on Censorship magazine, September 2016

‘In a new short story, published here in English for the first time, a woman trapped in a glass bottle is able to see, but unable to influence, the world around her. By failing to resist, she views the women, who are concerned only with the superficial details of life, as complict in the regime. Her inspiration was a pivotal moment of understanding that “we have given away our transient victory to such a totalitarian authority and that we keep turning int he same vicious closed circle, without an end.”‘ Interview with Basma Abdel Aziz by Charlotte Bailey, in the same edition of Index on Censorship magazine, September 2016

Short story title: Bottled Up

Author: Basma Abdel Aziz

Translator: Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

First published: The Unnamed: Does anonymity need to be defended? Index on Censorship, vol 45, issue 3, September 2016


Code Name: Butterfly

Code Name: Butterfly is a short YA novel by Palestinian author Ahlam Bsharat, beautifully rendered into English by award-winning translator Nancy N. Roberts, and published in May 2016 by new UK-based independent publishing house Neem Tree Press.

I was the copy editor and fell so deeply in love with it that I’ve wangled myself a new part-time freelance job as publicist for Neem Tree Press, doing social media and working to get this lovely book into the hands of students, teachers, librarians and YA lit reviewers. The twitter account is now live: @NeemTreePress. Please follow us and do get in touch if you review children’s books and would like a review copy.

Butterfly is a feisty little novel that gives readers a moving introduction to life in the West Bank and the Israel/Palestine conflict. Intended as a YA/teenage read, I personally think it will be just as gripping for adult readers. Told from the perspective of ‘Butterfly’, a Palestinian school girl in her early teens, beset with best friend troubles, family tensions and all the confusions of puberty, not to mention a looming and confusing political environment, it’s a moving coming of age story that also deals with conflict in a more universal way.

For an independent publisher, word of mouth makes a world of difference, so if you read it and like it, please leave an online review (e.g. on Goodreads) to encourage others to pick up this funny and charming little book!


‘A powerful short novel dealing with the age-old conflict between Israel & Palestine.’

Outside in World

‘A beautiful, astounding book that daringly, yet seamlessly blends the dreamy world of adolescence with the tough questions it brings. Code Name: Butterfly speaks with intelligence, wit and irony about the injustices and implications of occupation.’

Chairman, IBBY Palestine

‘We look out through the eyes of a 14 or 15-year-old girl who doesn’t know what to think about her eyebrows, much less the two-state solution. We, like her, must start over with new vocabulary. Indeed, if Butterfly has a superpower, it’s her mastery of the power of questions. …the book’s questions strip not just Butterfly of certainty but also the reader, making it a valuable read for a teen or adult.’

Marcia Lynx Qualey, The National and ArabLit blog

‘Full of humour … brave and honest … hands-down my favourite Arabic story for young adults.

Susanne Abou Ghaida at Kel Shahr Kteib blog (review of the Arabic original)

Tajdeed: Contemporary Arabic Stories in Translation

Long awaited, the Arabic short story special of The Common journal is now out!

‘The issue was co-edited by Jennifer Acker and Jordanian short-story writer Hisham Bustani, with an eye not just to bringing new Arabic literature into translation, but into joyous, sharp translation — with work by some of the best emerging Arabic-English translators. This collection is not for Arabists, but for English-language fictionophiles.’ (ArabLit blog)

The Common issue 11, entitled Tajdeed: Contemporary Arabic Fiction, features the work of 31 contributors from 15 Middle Eastern countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Translated for contemporary English-speaking audiences, the issue presents a diverse group of emerging and established literary stars.

The anthology is available to buy at www.thecommononline.org. You can also read several of the short stories online, including the one I translated – the surreal Minouche by Moroccan author Anis Arrafai – but I’d urge you to buy a copy of this stunning publication. One to treasure.

Shortlisted for the 2016 Arts Foundation Literary Translation Fellowship 

My head is still reeling after attending one of the most exciting arts events I’ve ever been invited to. There were children’s theatre entrepreneurs, people who stage symphonies in unusual locations, innovative jewellery designers and the creator of the world’s first sustainable fabric made from pineapple leaves, Pinatex. A truly inspiring celebration of young people in the arts. And not only was I wined and fed with delicious canapés, I came home with a cheque for £1000, as a shortlisted candidate for the Arts Foundation 2016 fellowship in literary translation. I’m delighted that the fellowship was awarded to, IMHO, the most deserving of the 5 of us on the shortlist, the amazing Deborah Smith: scholar of Korean literature, award-winning translator and founder of the radical publishing house Tilted Axis Press. Thank you to the Arts Foundation and to Alexandra who nominated me. 

The Bride of Amman – UK launch tour

Fadi Zaghmout and I had a busy, exhausting but exhilerating week in November, touring the south of England to launch The Bride of Amman. We had such a great time and I’m very proud especially of our conversation with students at the Middle East Centre at St Anthony’s College, Oxford, our radio interview with Ivan Jackson on Bristol Community FM’s ShoutOut show, and our packed launch event with Brian Whitaker at Gay’s the Word – probably the world’s first Arabic book launch in an LGBTQ bookshop? Huge thanks to Brian for his support and to everyone who came along, tweeted and shared #bookface selfies!

Fadi shared a very thorough write-up of the week on his blog, The Arab Observer. More information about the launch events we held below.

The Bride of Amman: Sexual freedoms and body rights in the Middle East

Fadi Zaghmout discusses civil rights and gender politics in the Arab world and reads from his novel, The Bride of Amman, out now in English translation.

With Brian Whitaker,  former Middle East correspondent for The Guardian and author of Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East (London and Brighton)


The Suffolk Anthology bookshop, Cheltenham – 7pm, Mon 9 November (FB event here)

Discussion with sixth form students at Eton College – am, Tues 10 November

The Middle East Centre, St. Anthony’s College, Oxford – 5pm, Tues 10 November (FB event)

Interview on ShoutOut radio, Bristol – pm, Wed 11 November

The Arts House Café, Bristol – 7pm, Wed 11 November (FB event)

Behind-the-scenes visit to the British Library and a look at historic Arabic texts relating to sexuality and gender. Thank you Daniel Lowe!

Gay’s the Word bookshop, London, with Brian Whitaker – 7pm, Thurs 12 November (FB event)

Waterstones, Brighton, with Brian Whitaker – 7.30pm, Fri 13 November (FB event)

Thank you to all our hosts, and thank you everyone for helping to spread the word!

See also the brilliant collection of readers’ selfies: #TheBrideofAmman #bookface #selfie?

Twitter: @FadiZaghmout & #bookface gallery on Pinterest

More about The Bride of Amman: