It’s already a rough year for UK-based publishers who bring out translations from the Arabic. Last month, Quercus — which publishes Elias Khoury in the UK — put itself up for sale. This week, Saqi Books has announced that they’re looking for an investor:
The publisher, which was founded in 1983 in London, is the sister-house of Dar al-Saqi in Beirut, founded in 1987. It has brought out a number of significant books, including recently, the PEN-supported anthology Syria Speaks and the collection from Palestine Keep Your Eye on the Wall, ed. Olivia Snaije and Mitchell Albert.
Publisher Lynn Gaspard said yesterday in an open letter that in 2013 Saqi saw its “highest turnover” to date and, as a result, is “reviewing its long term strategy” regarding its English language program.
“The directors are now reviewing our strategy in the U.K., actively seeking investment in the business, and have embarked upon discussions with interested parties,” Gaspard’s letter said. She also noted that this will not affect the company’s bookstore, Al Saqi Books, nor its sister company in Beirut, Dar al Saqi.
It does, however, affect Saqi’s international literary fiction imprint, Telegram. The imprint, launched in 2005, has brought out works by Raba’i al-Madhoun (The Lady from Tel Aviv, trans. Elliott Colla), Mohamed Choukri (For Bread Alone, trans. Paul Bowles), Hassan Daoud (The Year of the Revolutionary New Bread-making Machine, trans. Randa Jarrar), and many others.
The letter closed by saying Saqi Books expected to be able to announce the outcome of the review and any discussions at the London Book Fair. Meanwhile, those interested in discussing the business should contact Lynn Gaspard, lynn[at]saqibooks.co.uk.