• The Book of the Sultan’s Seal, Strange Incidents from History in the City of Mars


    It’s hard to imagine a debut more thrilling than Youssef Rakha’s groundbreaking The Book of the Sultan’s Seal. The novel is made up of nine chapters, each centered on a drive our hero, Mustafa Çorbacı, takes around greater Cairo—city of post-9/11 Islam. In a series of visions, Çorbacı encounters the spirit of the last Ottoman sultan and embarks on a mission the sultan assigns him. Çorbacı’s trials shed light on the contemporary Arab Muslim’s desperation for a sense of identity: The Book of the Sultan’s Seal is both a suspenseful, erotic, riotous novel and an urgent, unparalleled examination of accounts of Muslim demise.

  • Always Coca-Cola


    Always Coca-Cola is the story of three very different young women attending university in Beirut: Abeer, Jana, and Yasmine. The narrator, Abeer Ward (fragrant rose, in Arabic), daughter of a conservative family, admits wryly that her name is also the name of her father’s flower shop.

  • Sarmada


    Three women struggle against the forces of society, family, and passion in a small Druze village in the south of Syria as the country itself struggles against the forces of the Ottoman Empire, the French Empire, and then the Baath. The village of Sarmada is an enchanting place, but the people who live there don’t much notice it.

  • The Book of the Sultan’s Sea...

  • Always Coca-Cola...

  • Sarmada...


Youssef Rakha

Information About Author

Youssef Rakha was born on 12 June 1976 in Cairo. He has a first class BA Hons in English and Philosophy (Hull University, UK, 1998) and was awarded the Larkin Prize for English and the Chris Ayers Prize for Philosophy. 

Since the early 1990s he has contributed many articles, book reviews and translations to the Arabic press, and is presently senior writer for the English-language Al-Ahram Weekly. In October 2009 he was selected as one of the 39 authors of the Beirut39 project. 

He has two novels, both published in English translation in 2014, a collection of short stories (Dar Sharqiyat, 1999) and two travel books, including Beirut, shi mahal [Beirut, some place], Amkena Books, 2006. 

His first novel, Kitab at-Tughra, was published just after Hosni Mubarak gave up power. It is translated by Paul Starkey and entitled The Book of the Sultan's Seal: Strange Incidents from History in the City of Mars, and is published as part Swallow Editions by Massachusetts-based Interlink Publishing. 

His second novel, The Crocodiles, is published in English translation by Robin Moger by Seven Stories Press. In an op-ed article in the New York Times, it was described as “a portrait of a generation, a cosmology of Egyptian society and the human condition”.


Youssef Rakha blogs at his website http://yrakha.com/

Books written by the Author