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 fictional 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for Western Asia) she contributed to “Arab Integration” report and “Towards Justice in the Arab world” report which was withdrawn by UN general secretary.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.

” Salt journals… writings by Tunisian formwer political prisoners women” is her latest published book.


Yasmine Seale was born in 1989, to a Syrian mother and a British father, and grew up in Paris.

She translates from Arabic and French, and her essays on books and art have appeared in Harper’s, The Nation, the TLS, Apollo, frieze and elsewhere.

Her first translated book, Aladdin, came out from W. W. Norton in 2018. She is currently working on a new translation of the Thousand and One Nights for the same publisher.


Robert Graham Irwin (born 23 August 1946) 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. degree 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 awardwinning 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 this year was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


Gerard Jan Henk van Gelder FBA is a Dutch academic who was the Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford from 1998 to 2012. He was Lecturer in Arabic at the University of Groningen from 1975 to 1998, gaining a doctorate from the University of Leiden in 1982. He 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 (1982) and Close Relationships: incest and inbreeding in classical Arabic literature (2005).


Philip Terry was born in Belfast, and is currently Director of Creative Writing at the University of Essex. He is the author of the lipogrammatic novel The Book of Bachelors, and the poetry collections Oulipoems, Oulipoems 2, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets. His translations include a version of Dante’s Inferno relocated to present-day Essex, and Raymond Queneau’s last published book of poetry, Elementary Morality.

Philip Terry’s tapestry was shortlisted in 2013 for the Goldsmiths Prize.

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