We Wrote in Symbols: Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers

We Wrote in Symbols: Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers

Selma Dabbagh

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It is a little-known secret that Arabic literature has a long tradition of erotic writing. Behind that secret lies another – that many of the writers are women.

We Wrote in Symbols celebrates the works of 75 of these female writers of Arab heritage who articulate love and lust with artistry and skill. Here, a wedding night takes an unexpected turn beneath a canopy of stars; a woman on the run meets her match in a flirtatious encounter at Dubai Airport; and a carnal awakening occurs in a Palestinian refugee camp. From a masked rendezvous in a circus, to meetings in underground bars and unmade beds, there is no such thing as a typical sexual encounter, as this electrifying anthology shows.

Powerfully conveying the complexities and intrigues of desire,
We Wrote in Symbols invites you to share these characters’ wildest fantasies and most intimate moments.


'Fierce, captivating, revolutionary. A dazzling collection that will win hearts and change minds.' -Elif Shafak

‘These voices are furious, witty, outrageous, tender and entranced. This collection offers much delightful entertainment and fresh perspectives on women and sex in the Middle East.’ -Marina Warner

‘A groundbreaking collection of Arab women writing about love and lust … the first of its kind in English, could not be more refreshing … What We Wrote in Symbols captures most strongly is the richness and depth of erotic writing in the Arabic literary tradition, and the incredible diversity and range of its female voices. If this eye-opening collection also helps shatter some assumptions about gender and sexuality in the Arab world, it is all the more welcome.’ -The Washington Post

About the Author

Selma Dabbagh is a British Palestinian writer of fiction. Her debut novel Out of It (Bloomsbury) was named a Guardian Book of the Year by Ahdaf Soueif and Marina Warner. Her radio play The Brick was nominated for the Imison Award and produced by BBC Radio 4. She has also published numerous short stories with Granta, Wasafiri, Saqi, Telegram and International PEN, and is a PEN and Pushcart Nominee. Her work has been translated into Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French.

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