Speakers


Haifa Zangana is an Iraqi author and activist. She has published three novels and four collections of short stories. Among her other books; City of Widows: an Iraqi woman account of war and resistance, Dreaming of Baghdad and The Torturer in the mirror, together with Ramsy Clark & Thomas Ehrlich Reifer. She is a founding member of International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS); and co-founder of Tadhamun; Iraqi Women Solidarity. She edited Party for Thaera; Palestinian women writing life, a collection of non-fiction creative writings by former Palestinian women prisoners. She was an advisor for the UNDP Report Towards the Rise of Women in the Arab World (2005) and as a consultant for ESCWA (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia) she contributed to “Arab Integration” report and “Towards Justice in the Arab world” report which was withdrawn by UN general secretary.
Her writings published regularly by Arab & western media and she is a weekly columnist for Al Quds Al Arabi. and lectures regularly on Iraqi culture and women’s issues.
She is the chair of judges of Middle East Monitor Palestine Book Awards and the editor of Salt Journal, which encourages writing by former women political prisoners in Tunisia, as part of a transitional justice process.


Yasmine Seale is a British-Syrian writer.

She translates from Arabic and French, and her essays on books and art have appeared in many places, including Harper’s, The Nation, TLS, Apollo, frieze and The Poetry Review.
Her first translated book, Aladdin, came out from W. W. Norton in 2018, to critical acclaim. She was the winner of the 2020 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize for poetry. She is currently working on a new translation of One Thousand and One Nights for the same publisher. Agitated Air: after Ibn Arabi, a correspondence in poems written with Robin Moger, is forthcoming from Tenement Press.


Robert Graham Irwin is a British historian, novelist, and writer on Arabic literature.
Irwin attended Epsom College, read modern history at the University of Oxford, and did graduate research at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) under the supervision of Bernard Lewis. His thesis was on the Mamluk reconquest of the Crusader states, but he failed to complete it. During his studies, he converted to Islam and spent some time in a dervish monastery in Algeria. From 1972 he was a lecturer in medieval history at the University of St. Andrews. He gave up academic life in 1977 in order to write fiction, while continuing to lecture part-time at Oxford, Cambridge and SOAS. Irwin is currently a Research Associate at SOAS, and the Middle East editor of The Times Literary Supplement. He has published a history of Orientalism and is an acknowledged expert on The Arabian Nights.
Many of Irwin’s novels focus on Arabic themes. This includes his first, the acclaimed dark fantasy novel The Arabian Nightmare, which was inspired by Jan Potocki’s The Manuscript Found in Saragossa. Later novels would focus on diverse subjects, such as British Surrealism (Exquisite Corpse) and Satanism in Swinging London (Satan Wants Me). A character from Satan Wants Me, the Satanist Charlie Felton, has a cameo in the 1969 episode of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic. Alan Moore, the comic’s creator, has described Irwin as a “fantastic writer”.


Huzama Habayeb is a Palestinian novelist, storyteller, columnist, translator, and poet who has won multiple awards such as Mahmoud Seif Eddin ِAl-Erani Award for Short Stories, Jerusalem Festival of Youth Innovation in Short Stories, and Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. Upon graduating from Kuwait University in 1987 with a BA in English language and Literature, she pursued careers in journalism, teaching, and translation before she eventually started to write professionally as a published author. She is a member of both the Jordanian Writers Association and the Arab Writers Federation. The following is a list of all Habayeb’s published works; and they’re all written in Arabic:

The Man Who Recurs (الرَّجُل الذي يَتَكرَّر) A short-story collection published in 1992 by the Arab Institute for Research and Publishing.
The Faraway Apples (التُفَّاحات البَعِيدَة) A short-story collection published in 1994 by Al-Karmel Publishing House.
A Form of Absence (شَكْلٌ للغِياب) A short-story collection published in 1997 by the Arab Institute for Research and Publishing.
Sweeter Night (لَيْلٌ أحْلَى) A short-story collection published in 2002 by the Arab Institute for Research and Publishing.
The Origin of Love (أصْلُ الهَوَى) A novel published in 2007 by the Arab Institute for Research and Publishing.
Begging (اسْتِجْداء) A poetry collection published in 2009 by the Arab Institute for Research and Publishing.
From Behind Windows (مِنْ وَراء النَّوافِذ) An anthology of short stories published in 2010 by the Palestinian Ministry of Culture.
Before the Queen Falls Asleep (قَبْلَ أن تَنامَ المَلِكَة) A novel published in 2011 by the Arab Institute for Research and Publishing.
Velvet (مُخْمَل) A novel published in 2016 by the Arab Institute for Research and Publishing.


Hanan al-Shaykh is a celebrated and award-winning novelist, playwright, journalist and storyteller from Lebanon. Her works feature female protagonists who struggle to be free of social, patriarchal and religious restrictions and have been translated into 21 languages around the world. She holds an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the American University of Beirut, and in June 2019 was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


Geert Jan van Gelder FBA is a Dutch academic who was the Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford from 1998 to 2012. His research moves over a wide range of topics within Classical Arabic literature, especially belles-lettres. They include the Arabic tradition of literary criticism, poetics, rhetoric, and stylistics; the history of poetry and poetic genres; and the study of specific themes in poetry and literary prose. He was Lecturer in Arabic at the University of Groningen from 1975 to 1998, gaining a doctorate from the University of Leiden in 1982 and was appointed as a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994. He moved to the University of Oxford in 1998 to take up the position of Laudian Professor of Arabic, becoming a Fellow of St John’s College, Oxford. He became a Fellow of the British Academy in 2005. His publications include Beyond the Line: classical Arabic literary critics on the coherence and unity of the poem (Brill, 1982) and Close Relationships: incest and inbreeding in classical Arabic literature (Bloomsbury, 2005).


Philip Terry was born in Belfast, and is Professor at the Department of Literature Film and Theatre Studies (LiFTS), at the University of Essex. His interests include the theory and practice of creative writing, particularly the work of Oulipo, experimental translation, and hybrid forms of writing and poetry. He is editor of The Penguin Book of Oulipo (Penguin, 2020), writer of the poetry collections Oulipoems (Ahadada, 2007), Oulipoems 2 (Ahadada, 2009), and Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Carcanet, 2010). His translations include a version of Dante’s Inferno relocated to present-day Essex, Raymond Queneau’s last published book of poetry, Elementary Morality (Carcanet, 2007) and Georges Perec’s I Remember (Godine, 2014). Philip Terry’s novel tapestry (Reality Street, 2013) was shortlisted for the 2013 Goldsmiths Prize.


Selma Dabbagh is a British Palestinian writer of fiction. Born in Dundee, she has lived in Bahrain, Cairo, Kuwait, Jeddah, Grenoble and Jerusalem. She now lives in London. Her short stories have been published by Granta, Wasafiri, Saqi and International PEN. Her first novel, ‘Out of It,’ (Bloomsbury) was set between Gaza, London and the Gulf and was a Guardian Book of the Year. Selma has also written radio plays The Brick (BBC Radio 4) that was nominated for an Imison Award and a futuristic play set in Palestine in 2048, Sleep It Off, Dr. Schott, produced by WDR in Germany. She has also written for the stage and the screen. Her work has appeared in a number of Saqi anthologies, Qissat; Short Stories by Palestinian Women (ed. Jo Glanville, 2006) as well as The Things I Would Tell You; British Muslim Women Write (edited by Sabrina Mahfouz, 2017). We Wrote In Symbols; Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers (Saqi, 2021) is her first edited collection


Emily Selove (PhD 2012, UCLA) is a senior lecturer in Medieval Arabic Language and Literature at the University of Exeter. Her early research focused on the figure of the uninvited guest (or “party-crasher”) in medieval Arabic literature, and especially on the 11th-century work Ḥikāyat Abī l-Qāsim, the subject of her monograph, Ḥikāyat Abī l-Qāsim: A Literary Banquet (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). She co-edited and translated this text with Professor Geert Jan van Gelder. Her translation of another 11th-century book of party-crashing is titled Selections from the Art of Party-Crashing in Medieval Iraq. She recently edited a co-authored textbook to introduce beginning students to the city of medieval Baghdad, Baghdad at the Centre of a World: 8th-13th Century, and has also created a collection of cartoons titled Popeye and Curly: 120 Days in Medieval Baghdad, to accompany this textbook.

Dr Selove was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Manchester from 2012-2014, working on the ERC-funded Arabic Commentaries on the Hippocratic Aphorisms project. She has articles published and in progress on medieval Arabic medicine and magic. She is currently the PI of a Leverhulme-funded research project, “A Sorcerer’s Handbook,” which will create an edition, translation, and literary study of Sirāj al-Dīn al-Sakkākī’s (d. 1229) magic handbook, Kitāb al-Shāmil wa-baḥr al-kāmil (The Book of the Complete).


Marilyn Hacker is the author of fourteen books of poems, including Blazons (Carcanet, 2019) and A Stranger’s Mirror (Norton, 2015), and an essay collection, Unauthorized Voices (Michigan, 2010). Eighteen translations of French and Francophone poets include Vénus Khoury-Ghata’s A Handful of Blue Earth (Liverpool, 2017) and Jean-Paul de Dadelsen’s That Light, All At Once (Yale, 2020). She recieved the 2010 PEN Voelcker Award and the international Argana Prize for Poetry from the Beit as-Sh’ir/ House of Poetry in Morocco in 2011.

Photo credit: Julie Fay


Samira Negrouche is a doctor, poet and translator from Algiers. Her poetry has been translated into 20+ languages and she has freequently collaborated with visual artists, choreographers and musicians. Her books include A l’ombre de Grenade (Lettres Char-nues, 2003), Six arbres de fortune author de ma baignoire (Éditions Mazette, 2017) and Traces (Fidel Anthelme, 2021). ‘Between scrawls and sketches’, included in We Wrote in Symbols: Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers, was translated by Marilyn Hacker and was published in a bilingual edition titles The Olive Trees’ Jazz & Other Poems (Pleiades Press, 2020).

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