We Wrote in Symbols: Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers

29 April '21 at 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm

Join us for the launch of We Wrote in Symbols, a collection of writing on love and lust by Arab women writers. 

It is a little-known secret that Arabic literature has a long tradition of erotic writing. Behind that secret lies another – that many of the writers are women.

We Wrote in Symbols  celebrates the works of 75 of these female writers of Arab heritage who articulate love and lust with artistry and skill. From a masked rendezvous in a circus, to meetings in underground bars and unmade beds, there is no such thing as a typical sexual encounter, as this electrifying anthology shows. On the night, a sensational line up of writers will read and discuss their work, sharing how they convey the complexities and intrigues of desire. 



Selma Dabbagh is a British Palestinian writer whose debut novel Out of It (Bloomsbury) was a Guardian Book of the Year. Her fiction has been published in Granta and Wasafiri and translated into a number of languages including Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French. Dabbagh has also worked on film scripts and as a writer for feature films and radio plays and her BBC R4 play The Brick was nominated for the Imison Award. She is the editor of We Wrote in Symbols.

Joumana Haddad is an award-winning Lebanese author, journalist and human rights activist. She was the cultural editor of An-Nahar newspaper for numerous years. She has been repeatedly selected as one of the world’s 100 most powerful Arab women by Arabian Business magazine. Her works, which have been widely translated and published around the world, include I Killed Scheherazade (Saqi Books, 2010) and Superman is an Arab (The Westbourne Press, 2012). The Seamstress’ Daughter (Hachette, 2019) is her latest novel.

lisa luxx is a queer poet, essayist and activist of British and Syrian heritage, and founder of The Sisterhood Salon in Beirut. Published in journals, newspapers and anthologies internationally, she has also been broadcast on Channel 4, BBC Radio 4, VICE TV, TEDx, and ITV. Her fourth chapbook Trust Your Outrage is out now. Her debut poetry collection Fetch Your Mother’s Heart is released by Out-Spoken Press in May 2021. 

Saeida Rouass is a novelist from London. She is the author of Eighteen Days of Spring in Winter and Assembly of the Dead (Watchword, 2015), and has contributed to numerous anthologies. Her work has been published in The Independent, Media Diversified, Newsweek and Skin Deep. She is a 2019 Churchill Fellow for her work exploring gender and white supremacy in the USA. 

Yasmine Seale is a British-Syrian writer. Her essays, poetry, visual art, and translations from Arabic and French have appeared in many places including Harper’s, TLS, Apollo and Poetry Review. She was the winner of the 2020 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize for poetry. She is the author of Aladdin: A New Translation (W. W. Norton, 2018) and, with Robin Moger, of Agitated Air: Poems after Ibn Arabi, forthcoming from Tenement Press. She is working on a new translation of One Thousand and One Nights for W. W. Norton.  

Hanan al-Shaykh is a celebrated and award-winning novelist, playwright, journalist and storyteller from Lebanon, now living in London. Her books include I Sweep the Sun Off Rooftops (Bloomsbury, 2002) and The Occasional Virgin (Pantheon, 2018). Her work has been translated into twenty-one languages. In June 2019, al-Shaykh was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Please note, Hanan al-Shaykh is no longer able to join us live but  will be featured via a pre-recorded video.




The Arab British Centre and Saqi Books