Two New Zaidan Historical Novels Available in English

The historical novels of Jurji Zaidan (1861-1914 ) have long delighted Arabic-language (and Persian-, Urdu-, Turkish-, and other-language) readers. For various reasons, only in the last two years have a few become available in English, including the gorgeously translated Tree of Pearls, available later this year from Syracuse University Press. And now two more:

The author’s grandson, George Zaidan, yesterday sent out a email to the effect that:

I am pleased to inform you that the translation into English of two historical novels by Jurji Zaidan set during the Abbasid period.  They are The Caliph’s Sister (ISBN 13: 9780984843510), subtitled Harun al-Rashid and the Fall of the Persians and translated by Issa J.Boullata of McGill University and The Caliph’s Heirs (ISBN 13: 9780984843527), subtitled Brothers at War: the Fall of Baghdad, translated by Michael Cooperson of UCLA.

The books are now available on Amazon and other online stores. You can find more about The Caliph’s Sister at and more about The Caliph’s Heirs at

The Zaidan Foundation has attracted a wonderful list of translators, perhaps better than any professional publisher would’ve done, anyhow. The cover designs could be a little more vibrant, yes, but who doesn’t like an exciting historical novel, as Samah Selim writes in her translator’s note to Tree of Pearls, that gives one “the old-fashioned readerly pleasure born of the satisfying union of knowledge and entertainment”?