The eighth talk of the BookBlast® 10×10 tour, a nationwide celebration of independent publishing, features Saqi Books @BhamWaterstones Founded in 1983 in London, Saqi Books is an independent publishing house of quality general interest and academic books on North Africa and the Middle East. Over the years Saqi has expanded its list to include writers from all over the world and has established two imprints, Telegram and The Westbourne Press.
On Thurs. 25 October at 6.30 p.m., Elisabeth Briggs, editor & marketing manager @SaqiBooks will chair the discussion with Nafeesa Hamid and Aliyah Holder @BhamWaterstones The talk has as its theme, The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write inspired by the anthology edited by Sabrina Mahfouz in which their writing is featured.
Contributors to The Things I Would Tell You include: Fadia Faqir, Amina Jama, Chimene Suleyman, Aliyah Hasinah Holder, Kamila Shamsie, Imtiaz Dharker, Triska Hamid, Nafeesa Hamid, Ahdaf Soueif, Seema Begum, Leila Aboulela, Shazea Quraishi, Shaista Aziz, Miss L, Aisha Mirza, Hibaq Osman, Azra Tabassum, Selma Dabbagh, Asma Elbadawi, Samira Shackle, Sabrina Mahfouz, Hanan al-Shaykh.
“I felt upset and angered by the misrepresentations I encountered constantly and I felt grateful when a clear-eyed truth was spoken about us. And then again, who was ‘us’?
“And so the question is asked by Ahdaf Soueif in Mezzaterra in relation to being a Muslim living in the West – who was ‘us’? It is a question that has prompted the creation of the book you hold in your hands. At the time of writing, this question is one that a person of Muslim heritage living in the West cannot possibly ignore, even if they hadn’t previously given it much thought. Our media is deluged by stories about Muslim extremists; Muslim moderates condemning the actions of Muslim extremists; non-Muslims bemoaning the fact that not enough moderate Muslims are condemning the actions of extremist Muslims; the possibilities of your Muslim-next door becoming radicalised, perhaps even at their local primary school. This coverage has now been compounded by post- Brexit reports of a catastrophic rise in Islamophobic attacks across Britain, the majority of which have been targeted at women.” — Sabrina Mahfouz
Birmingham-born spoken word artist, playwright and poet, Nafeesa Hamid, @NafeesaHamid regularly performs in the Midlands and London. Her work engages with the issues of mental health, domestic violence, gender, identity and culture. She is currently studying in Derby and is part of Mouthy Poets, a collective of young artist and performers based in Nottingham. Meet the author in person on Thurs 25 Oct.
Book extract (taken from a stage show in development): This Body Is Woman
“3. My little sister is ten. When we leave the house my mother says to her ‘Put on a longer dress!’ My father says ‘where is her scarf? Where is your scarf, girl?’ They are getting her ready to woman when her woman body is still curled up foetal, like, let me sleep for ever. Her belly and cheeks plump with Girl, with reading Jaqueline Wilson and experimenting with the neon-pink free lipstick from Girl Magazine; she is not ready to woman, with her cherry-peaked breastlets, her ears unpierced, unsexed. I do not want her to ever woman. She is already looking for the power of woman and my parents are already telling her that woman needs no power. Has no power. When she was born they were telling me the same. My body is no place for man, no place for me to woman like woman, like real woman.
“Let me start again. I am ten and my only wish is to have a sister, preferably older, her name would be Nabeela. I’m jealous enough not to see the shift in my parents’ hands – no one flinches in the house any more. I read Girl magazine, wish for a sister to teach me how to experiment with neon pink. She is becoming woman. Perhaps she is already more woman than I was at ten. We will never show Mother our unfurling pomegranate bodies. Hold on to your seeds, girls.
“My little sister is already looking for the power of woman and I’m grinding down the idea right in front of her eyes, telling her to keep running, keep running, we just gotta keep running, kid. Our bodies are no place for us.”
Raised in Reading but living in Birmingham, Aliyah Holder @aliyahhasinah is a spoken word poet and creative producer. She has collaborated with various collectives and organisations, and founded Herstory LIVE in 2015. As part of spoken word duo A2, she is currently working on a Random Acts Film for Channel 4. Meet the author in person on Thurs 25 Oct.
Book extract: Chapter 3 – Pause
“It’s as if we live life in blindfolds gliding on paths towards manmade
Gave us the dream pre-packaged in violence
allowed us to commodify our self-hate in words and creams
let it manifest surrounded by broken windows, empty plates &
Cracked systems, gauzed in supremacy, served us 38% more
and told us the issue was immigrants.”
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