Farah Abdessamad recently launched a Paris-based publishing house that specializes in fiction and non-fiction dealing with armed conflicts and fragile settings. The house, Editions Checkpointed (@checkpointed), is looking for manuscripts in English and French. Abdessamad answered a few questions about the enterprise:
ArabLit: When was the publishing company launched? Why conflict? Why now?
Farah Abdessamad: Checkpointed Publishing (French: Editions Checkpointed) was launched in November 2013, based in Paris with a global vision and outreach.
No area of the world has ever been conflict-free. I grew up like others with vivid images of Rwanda, war in the Balkans, 9/11 and, sadly, more events since. It was hard to understand all these different occurrences, and in many ways, it is still difficult today. However, one certainty I have had, is that our globalised world did not put an end to conflicts. On the other hand, it brought it even closer through an increased interconnectedness between citizens – here I have in mind what I consider as two milestones: the roles of Al Jazeera during the invasion of Iraq, and Twitter during the “Arab Uprisings” of 2011 onwards. These two experiences have changed the common perception of conflicts which are not longer a distant far-off series of events in obscure lands, but rather a familiar and relatable “right now” on our daily screens. However, conflict narratives were soon dominated by journalistic or humanitarian ones. It felt that something was lacking, that it became one-dimensional. And that this something, was perhaps the voice of the people themselves. As a fellow book worm and keen traveler, it seemed obvious that literature had an overlooked potential in bringing this plurality of voices and show an alternative, more complex, side of conflicts and people affected by it.
On a personal note, I was enriched by interactions I had in the framework of professional experiences and travels throughout the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and Haiti over the last five years, which did not match mainstream discourses. After many cups of tea, Checkpointed was born.
AL: Can you describe more of what sort of manuscripts you’re looking for? In which language(s)?
FA: Checkpointed Publishing is looking for fiction and non-fiction manuscripts related to conflicts and fragile settings. This means outstanding essays, journals, letters, poetry, or novels with a edge and a particular focus on youth and post-2011 events in the Arab region. Possible topics could include youth engagement, secularism, military intervention, constitutional processes, women and conflict in the Middle East, borders and identity, media in the Arab world (non-exhaustive!). Fiction is entirely up to the limits of creativity. We love to be surprised and are open to unorthodox/challenging views. Aspiring Checkpointed writers can freely contact us to discuss their projects if in doubt.
For the time being, Checkpointed Publishing is only accepting electronic manuscripts in either French or English sent to email@example.com. More details about our Call for Manuscripts and formatting requirements can be found on our website.
AL: How do you plan to distribute your books? They will all be e-books? Why digital?
FA: We really believe in digital resources and the news ways citizens have come to engage thanks to them. For this, Checkpointed books will be available in e-book format, but also in print using the print-on-demand technology online, so that any reader, anywhere, can have access to us. Borders and distance should not longer be an obstacle when it comes to sharing stories and learn more about each other. All of our books will be listed on our website as they are released.
AL: Do you have books that are forthcoming / projects you are working on?
FA: We are pleased to be already working on several projects and looking forward to more. The best way to be informed of our latest activities is to join our facebook group and check our website regularly. 2014 is a promising year…
AL: What sort of readers are you looking to reach? What sort of writers?
FA: Checkpointed readers and writers are always curious, hungry and thirsty for exchange and new ways to see the world. They are intellectually-demanding individuals who do not accept events as spectators, but who seek understanding. And, of course, we are a family that is always accepting new likeminded members!