‘Darf Publishers’ Relaunching With Focus on Arabic Literature in Translation

The Darf publishing house — named for its association with Dar Fergiani — is re-launching this fall with Ahmed Fagih’s Maps of the Soul:

DARFThe publishing house, which was founded in 1980, brought out a number of history, archaeology, and theology books, mainly in the 1980s. According to the house’s new project manager, Fergus McKeown, Dar Fergiani operated in Libya in the 1950s, but could not continue to print as Moammar Ghaddafi consolidated his rule.  Fergiani emigrated, although there are still several Fergiani bookshops in Libya.

Of the house’s backlist, McKeown said, “A lot of the back catalogue is very niche and only has a small appeal. [But then] Ghassan Fergiani, the Managing Director, read many Arabic books and felt that they needed to be brought to a wider audience. ”

The first book coming out from the re-launched Darf is Libyan novelist Ahmed Fagih’s Maps of the Soulwhich represents the first three parts of a 12-part historical novel. Fagih has a number of works available in translation: His Homeless Rats came out from Quartet in 2011, and several other translations are available on Fagih’s website.

The house’s second planned novel, forthcoming in 2014, is Libyan author Mansour Bushnaf’s Chewing Gumbilled as a satiric and critical portrait of Libya.

The re-launched house, McKeown said, “was originally limited to just Libyan authors; however, this has expanded to include a wider remit.” The novel African Titanics, by Eritrean writer Abu Bakr Khaal, is also slated to come out in 2014.

McKeown said, of future authors, that, “We are focusing on the book itself, it does not matter if the author is well known or a debutant.”

He added that, “We are not doing anything different from any other publishers as a matter of principle, only adding to the breadth of Arabic fiction published in English, and trying to produce those titles to the best of our abilities.”

Books will come out both as print copies and as e-books, he said.