3 Egyptian Novels Published by Small Presses. (Small Press September)

Happy Labor day to my fellow Americans, and happy Monday to everyone else. Small Press September is in full swing, and today I wanted to talk about 3 books by Egyptian authors who are also published by independent presses!


Woman at Point1) Woman At Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi Translated by Sherif Hetata (Zed Books)

Woman at Point Zero is published by Zed Books. The small but powerful novel recounts the childhood and adulthood of Firdaus, a woman sentenced to death for killing a man. Firdaus tells her story to our narrator from her prison cell. As she relives every awful thing that has been done to her, we get a glimpse of a wronged but seriously independent woman. The novel gives us a glimpse into the life of a poor girl growing up in Egypt who must forcefully make her way in a society that stunts her and mistreats her at every turn. I picked this up on a recommendation from Claire at Word By Word and I am so happy I did. I finished it in one sitting, and it’s been on my mind ever since.

Zed Books is an independent publishers based in the UK that focuses on publishing diverse voices. They publish fiction and nonfiction, and their catalog boast some very interesting titles that I’m excited to explore.


From Zed Books:

Zed publishes across a wide range of topics, with writers from across the planet featuring in its line up. It is best know for publishing the work of marginalised individuals and groups, many of them originating in the Global South, others from oppressed elements of ‘Western’ society.

Woman at Point Zero is my first Zed Book, but it certainly won’t be my last!


Queue The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette (Melville House)

The Queue is a science fiction/dystopian tale set in an unknown Middle Eastern city that is ruled by the “Gate.” The Gate is an unknown authoritarian ruler that took power after a failed coup known now as the”Disgraceful Events.” The Gate dictates what its citizens can and can’t do by granting permissions. These permissions allow its citizens to undergo surgery, obtain permits, and the likes. The catch, however, is that it never opens. Instead its citizens queue at its doors for undetermined amounts of time awaiting their turn.They wait in shifts,  go to work, and school, and then line up again. The novel is surreal, and very reminiscent of classic dystopian  novels like 1984. Its depiction of complete totalitarianism, and its allusion to real events and governments in our society, will give you chills.

Melville House is an indie publisher based in New York. They have been around since 2001, and started as an attempt from  Valerie Merians, the publisher’s founder attempted  to publish Poetry After 9/11, a collection of works by poets and authors  post 9/11.The company has been churning out fiction, non-fiction, and poetry books ever since.


From Melville House:

Melville House is also well-known for its fiction, with two Nobel Prize winners on its list: Imre Kertesz and Heinrich Boll. In particular, the company has developed a world-wide reputation for its rediscovery of forgotten international writers — its translation of a forgotten work by Hans Fallada, Every Man Dies Alone, launched a world-wide phenomenon. The company also takes pride in its discovery of many first-time writers — such as Lars Iyer (Spurious), Tao Lin (Shoplifting from American Apparel), Jeremy Bushnell (The Weirdnessand Christopher Boucher (How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive) — all of whom have gone on to greater success.



Taxi Taxi by Khaled Al Khamissi Translated by Jonathan Wright  (Aflame Books)

Taxi is a collection of very short stories( each one  two or three pages)  about taxi drivers in Cairo. Each chapter follows a different taxi driver, and his clients as they drive around different parts of Cairo.  We get a glimpse into every day events of  both the people of Cairo, and the Egyptian culture. From the upper class, to woman, to the working class each chapter offers insight and commentary on Cairo,both its history and its people.

Aflame books publishes book from around the world.

Aflame Books


From Aflame Books:

AFLAME BOOKS has a mission: to provide you with the finest English translations of literature from across the world hitherto hidden by barriers of culture and language.

Since 2005, we have been publishing fiction and poetry fired with the passion and originality that abounds in what was once called the “Third World” and is now more positively referred to as the Warm World.

Sadly, I think  (correct if I am wrong), but I believe the company closed down. This website  and this website   were the only links I was able to find for it as well as their Facebook. Hopefully, I was just not able to find a working site, but if they are closed it’s still worth supporting them and their authors.

Hope you enjoy these recommendation. Have you read any Egyptian authors published by Small Indie Presses? Please let me know!

Happy Reading 🙂







4 thoughts on “3 Egyptian Novels Published by Small Presses. (Small Press September)

  1. Thank you kindly for the mention and love that you found these three to read together. I’m definitely intending to read more of Nawal Al Saadawi, I loved Woman at Point Zero and really want to read more of her work.

    The other writer from Egypt I’ve read quite a bit of is Adhaf Soueif, I love her novels and her more recent non fiction and articles. I’ve read one by Naguib Mafaouz but found that more difficult to get on with and tend to prefer the woman writers and issues. I’m not sure whether they were published by small presses, being popular writers, perhaps not. Often we start with the popular and then find our way from there to the lesser known.

    • Thank you for the incredible recommendation. I fully intend to read more by Nawal Al Saadawi as well. Woman at Point Zero was such a powerful read. Also, thank you for the other recs. I’ll add them to my list, it’d be a bonus if they were published by small presses right? Still,I’ll read them regardless 🙂

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