The American University in Cairo Press (AUCP) is spinning off a new imprint — Hoopoe — that promises “fresh writing from Marrakesh to Baghdad and Khartoum to Aleppo for adventurous readers everywhere”:
The new press writes:
“From historical epics, social satire, police procedurals and stories of the future Middle East: we will publish the exciting and the unexpected.”
Some of the books on Hoopoe’s initial list stake out a clear new identity for the press: fun detective stories (Whitefly and The Final Bet, Abdelilah Hamdouchi) and satire (The Televangelist, Ibrahim Essa). Other titles seem the sort of thing that the good ‘ol AUCP might publish, and indeed one of the four launch titles for Spring 2016 — Ibrahim Nasrallah’s Time of White Horses — is a reprint.
Still, the new imprint is divorced from the heavy scholarly books that can be found over at AUCP, and the temporary website seems to promise a press that’s engaged with its readers.
Titles promised for Hoopoe’s Fall 2016 list include three International Prize for Arabic Fiction-shortlisted novels: Mohamed Rabie’s Otared, Khaled Khalifa’s No Knives in the Kitchens of This City, and Hammour Ziada’s The Longing of the Dervish, which also won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. It also will bring back reprints of Abdelilah Hamdouchi’s detective novel The Final Bet and Khairy Shalaby’s shambling The Time-Travels of the Man Who Sold Pickles and Sweets.
Why a hoopoe?
In his renowned epic ‘The Conference of the Birds’, Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar casts the hoopoe as the leader of all birds and the storyteller on the flock’s quest for enlightenment.
In the Qu’ran and Torah, the hoopoe is depicted as a trusted messenger, carrying messages across the Holy lands between prophets, kings and queens; while in Ancient Egypt a hoopoe represents the afterlife and has long been considered a source of good fortune.