Poet, writer, academic and translator, Iman Mersal was born in 1966 in the northern Egyptian Delta and emigrated to Canada in 1999. First published in Arabic in 2019, Traces of Enayat won the prestigious 2021 Sheikh Zayed Book Award, making Mersal the first woman to win its Literature category. Her most recent poetry collection is The Threshold, shortlisted for the 2023 Griffin Poetry Award.  She also wrote How to Mend: Motherhood and Its Ghosts (2018), which weaves a new narrative of motherhood through diaries, readings and photographs. Mersal’s work has also appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Review of Books and The Nation. She works as an Associate Professor of Arabic Literature at the University of Alberta, Canada.

Image credit: Lesung & Gazett


Leila Aboulela

‘A brooding, atmospheric read charged with a singular magical beauty. Iman Mersal conjures up the zeitgeist of artistic Cairo after the July revolution and reveals a merciless and inflexible world behind the genteel, cultivated image.’

Fowzia Karimi

‘With the deft sensibilities of an archaeologist, the narrator of Traces of Enayat sifts through layers of history and heritage, traversing the shifting geographies of cities and memories in search of the writer Enayat Al Zayyat, the mystery at the center of this transporting book. The reader is drawn in the wake of Iman Mersal’s inspired, circuitous, and relentless journey, heeding the call of the “weeping heard on the other side of a wall.”’

Praise for Iman Mersal

‘Undeceived, ironic, daring, Mersal’s poems are animated by a singular sensibility. They deal candidly with real life—migration, dying parents, emotional entanglements—and discover general truths among the fine particulars.’ Nick Laird

‘Long recognized throughout the Arab world and in Europe, Mersal is one of the strongest confessional (or postconfessional) poets we now have, in any language: her poems are fueled by a mordant wit, sensual vibrancy, and feminist brio.’ Maureen N. McLane

‘Mersal's poems are many things – sensuous, cerebral, intimate, angry and disorientating. They provide food for thought and elicit laughter in the dark . . . [The Threshold is] a perfect entry point for readers new to her work.’ Malcolm Forbes, The National

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