Coming in August 2023: Poems from Iraq and Palestine, a Moroccan Novel &, Finally, Iman Mersal

Book publication dates shift, and thus we are supplementing the annual list of forthcoming literature in translation with monthly lists, which we hope are more accurate. If you know of other works forthcoming this month, please add them in the comments or email us at

Traces of Enayat, by Iman Mersal, tr. Robin Moger (And Other Stories)

Well worth the wait, Iman Mersal’s remarkable book will finally appear in English on August 3. From the publisher:

When Iman Mersal stumbles upon a great – yet forgotten – novel written by Enayat al-Zayyat, a young woman who killed herself in 1963, four years before her book was published, Mersal begins to research the writer. She tracks down Enayat’s best friend, who had been Egypt’s biggest movie star at the time; she is given access to Enayat’s diaries. Mersal can’t accept, as has been widely speculated since Enayat’s death, that a publisher’s rejection was the main reason for Enayat’s suicide. From archives, Enayat’s writing, and Mersal’s own interviews and observations, a remarkable portrait emerges of a woman striving to live on her own terms, as well as of the artistic and literary scene in post-revolution Cairo.

Blending research with imagination, and adding a great deal of empathy, the award-winning Egyptian poet Iman Mersal has created an unclassifiable masterpiece.

History of Ash, by Khadija Marouazi, tr. Alexander E. Elinson (Hoopoe)

From the publisher:

An unforgettable and eviscerating novel of human frailty, brutality, and resistance as told through the first-person prison narratives of a man and a woman

History of Ash is a fictional prison account narrated by Mouline and Leila, who have been imprisoned for their political activities during the so-called Lead Years of the 1970s and 1980s in Morocco, a period that was characterized by heavy state repression.

Moving between past and present, between experiences lived inside the prison cell and outside it, in the torture chamber and the judicial system, and the challenges they faced upon their release, Mouline and Leila describe their strategies for survival and resistance in lucid, often searing detail, and reassess their political engagements and the movements in which they are involved.

Strangers in Light Coats. Selected Poems, 2014–2020, by Ghassan Zaqtan, tr. Robin Moger (The University of Chicago Press)

Ghassan Zaqtan is not only one of the most significant Palestinian poets at work today, but one of the most important poets writing in Arabic. Since the publication of his first collection in 1980, Zaqtan’s presence as a poet has evolved with the same branching and cumulative complexity as his poems—an invisible system of roots insistently pushing through the impacted soil of political and national narratives.

Strangers in Light Coats is the third collection of Zaqtan’s poetry to appear in English. It brings together poems written between 2014 and 2020 drawn from six volumes of poetry. Catching and holding the smallest particles of observation and experience in their gravity, the poems sprout and grow as though compelled, a trance of process in which fable, myth, and elegy take form only to fall apart and reconfigure, each line picked apart by the next and brought into the new body.

Postcards From the Underworld. Poems, by Sinan Antoon, tr. the author (The University of Chicago Press)

The publishers write:

To confront time, pre-modern Arabic poems often began with the poet standing before the ruins, real and imagined, of a beloved’s home. In Postcards from the Underworld, Sinan Antoon works in that tradition, observing the detritus of his home city, Baghdad, where he survived two wars—the Iran-Iraq War of 1980 and the First Gulf War of 1991—and which, after he left, he watched from afar being attacked during the US invasion in 2003.  Antoon’s poems confront violence and force us not to look away as he traces death’s haunting presence in the world. Nature offers consolation, and flowers and butterflies are the poet’s interlocutors, but they too cannot escape ruin. Composed in Arabic and translated into English by the poet himself, Postcards from the Underworld is a searing meditation on the destruction of humans, habitats, and homes.