• The Ninety-Ninth Floor


    ’To be a Palestinian, either you forget your roots and deny your origins in order to advance in life, or you remain a bullet in the barrel of a rifle waiting to be fired.’ So says Majd, a Palestinian living in New York, working on the 99th floor of a sleek office building, and struggling to keep at bay memories of the 1982 massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon.

  • 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 Ninety-Ninth Floor...

  • The Book of the Sultan’s Sea...

  • Always Coca-Cola...

  • Sarmada...


Swallow Editions

Swallow Editions

for the Readers of Arabic Literature Across the World

The collection aims to be free of tedium, oil and dictatorship.

Founded and edited by Rafik Schami in close cooperation with the best publishers and translators of literary fiction. The series editor appreciates and reads both new as well as classical Arabic poetry for his own personal pleasure, but his long professional experience qualifies him to judge and select works of prose rather than poetry and has therefore chosen fiction as the focus of his collection.

This initiative wants to build a bridge to connect Arab writers with readers of other continents. The literary quality, the creative power of the texts and the ability of the authors to tell a great story are the determining factors in the selection of the works for publication. Neither the nationality, nor religion or the topic of the text plays any role or is a criterion.

These conditions will enable the works of fiction to fascinate readers in many countries – this is the expressed hope of both the series editor and the friends of Swallow Editions.

The series editor will not select works of fiction for publication, whose authors aim to copy the greats of world literature, as these imitators will always remain small and languish in the shadow of the great works’ original creators. What the series editor is looking for are writers who possess courageous and vivid imagination and a fascinating voice.

Swallow Editions is open to all works of fiction. We seek good narrative writing, which is both fresh and original. I hereby call on all Arab writers, who want to be read worldwide, to send me their work for consideration.

Interested authors should send a synopsis of their new work (not more than 2 pages) and text samples (not more than 15 pages); if the submission is a collection of short stories a maximum of three texts comprising a total of no more than 20 pages will be considered.

If chosen by Swallow Editions what happens next?

  1. Swallow Editions will have the work translated and edited by the most talented linguists and wordsmiths. This will be a close collaborative creative effort.
  2. With the help of these translations Swallow Editions will be able to enthuse the best publishers around the world for the work of these emerging writers. The criteria for the selection of these publishers are: firstly respect for the literature of other languages; secondly professionalism in the production and distribution of the works worldwide; and thirdly their best efforts in finding publishers in other language territories for the translated works.
  3. The author receives a contract, which licences the publisher to produce his or her work under the Swallow Editions imprint both in volume and digital format in all languages except Arabic, in which the author retains exclusive rights. This is a point of principle: the rights to the work in their mother-tongue should remain with the author – it is up to him or her to award the licence for the Arabic edition to a publisher of their choice.

We, Swallow Editions, would be thrilled and delighted, if we had helped the chosen authors to find their readers worldwide. This is our only and biggest reward. The quality of the fiction, of the narrative, of the prose is the only criteria for the selection of the texts. Neither politics nor pity or prejudice will matter. And it is that quality which will appeal to the readers. It will also appeal to the generous and free spirits, who support our efforts financially to assure our independence and with whose assistance we endeavour to bring new writing in maybe the most beautiful of languages to the attention of a worldwide audience.

Rafik Schami

spring of 2011, summer 2016