By Dennis Abrams
This comes in the wake of its announcement in February of 2014 that the program was in danger, citing what it called “an uphill struggle” in the UK. The company said it would be seeking outside investment and, following a “strategic review,” released six members of its staff, leaving publisher Lynn Gaspard as the company’s only remaining staff member.
Gaspard was quoted by The Bookseller as saying that the business would now be run on a “much smaller scale,” without the need for outside investors, but with plans to slowly expand over the next five years. “There was a bit of interest from our friends [in investment],” she said, “but in the end, this has made the most sense for us.”
Titles for 2015 include Desert Songs of the Night, an anthology of Arabic literature, as well as an updated edition of Ian Rutledge’s Enemy on the Euphrates: The Battle for Iraq.
In addition, the company has acquired the world English rights to Prix Goncourt and International IMPAC Dublin Literary-Award winner Tahar Ben Jelloun’s novel About My Mother from Gallimard, with plans to publish it in 2016.
Gaspard told The Bookseller that, “There has perhaps never been a greater need for critical, considered and progressive thinking from and about the Middle East. For over thirty years, Saqi has broadened access to important works written in Arabic and other languages, promoted awareness of cultural diversity in the UK and encouraged communication and debate between the Arab world and the West.”
The company, still family-owned, was founded by Gaspard’s parents more than 30 years ago with a sister company in Beirut, Lebanon, Dar al Saqi, along with a London Bookshop, Al Saqi Books. Saqi Books will be ran from the bookstore.