Zut Alors! Mon Livre Est Arrivé d'Angleterre!
That's my wee green-haired boy Conall pretending to be excited about the arrival of the first copies of my book, The Lost and Left Behind, just arrived from the London offices of Saqi Books, "a fiercely independent publisher of writers from all places and peoples."
It's the British edition of this book. Here's the American version. Each edition has a different title. Odd how that works. Publishers are a strange species altogether.
I really like this version, though. The cover was designed and illustrated by Tom Denbigh, and the book itself was printed in Lebanon, where Saqi's business suffered greatly last year during the Israeli-Hezbollah war.
I'm very proud to be with Saqi. It's a small but brave publishing house that has a tendency in its title selections to what the London Times calls "pioneering, specialist and often controversial books that large publishers refuse to go near." Saqi and has also carved out an important place for Arab literature in the English-speaking world.
Saqi began with London's Al-Saqi Bookshop, founded by André Gaspard and the late Mai Ghoussoub - a brave Lebanese Trotskyist-turned-humanitarian. Ghoussoub was once arrested for publishing articles exposing the corruption of the Palestine Liberation Organization under Yassir Arafat, and she lost an eye while driving a wounded Palestinian to hospital in 1977, during the Lebanese civil war. Around the same time, Gaspard was shot in the leg in the course of his efforts to negotiate the release of Christian workers held hostage as "spies" during that conflict.
Here's a lovely tribute to Ghoussoub. Here's a recent speech Gaspard gave, which I think justifies my use of the term "brave" to describe these publishers.
Saqi has long served as a place where English-speaking readers can find a wide range of Arab titles, and where Arab readers can find books banned in their home countries. Saqi's Lebanese sister company, Dar al-Saqi, publishes important Western texts in Arabic, and also provides a home for Arab writers who can't get published in repressive Arab regimes.
So I'm damn proud to be with Saqi, and the book is quite gorgeous. And only £12.99! Available at better British bookstores October 4.