Reading period: January – June 2015

Our Arabic reading group is back for a second round this winter, and we hope you’ll join us in reading and discussing some exciting Syrian fiction.

The first Arabic group was part of a series of special Finnegan’s List reading groups, and met in autumn 2013 to read three Syrian books selected by Samar Yazbek. This time, our group will be continuing our focus on Syria with three more books: No Knives in the Kitchens of this City by Khaled Khalifa, The Caves of Hydrahodahose by Salim Barakat, and The Gist of It by Rasha Abbas.

You can take part in discussions in person in London, as well as online in the comments section of the author pages. If your book club in another city is interested in reading along (last time we had groups in Cairo and New York City too), let us know at Most of all, we want to know what you think of the novels. Thanks to your discussion online and in person, one or more of the books we discuss might make it into English.

We also invite editors from around the world to read the English samples, peruse the author pages and even come to our meet-ups to hear more. (And Other Stories doesn’t publish many titles each year, so we’d be delighted if you followed up on one of these tips and published the author – do let us know!)

This group is chaired by Elisabeth Jaquette, who can be reached via for more information.

How It Works

  1. Excerpts in English are being added to this website – see the relevant author’s page. To read the whole book in Arabic, you can order No Knives in the Kitchens of This City from Neel Wa Furat here or here, and The Caves of Hydrahodahose from Neel Wa Furat here. The Gist of It has not yet been published in Arabic, but will be available to reading group readers as a pdf. If you have trouble finding one of the first two titles, we also have pdfs of the books available – just ask the group coordinator at
  2. Read the excerpts and/or the books, then add your thoughts online on the author pages.
  3. Come to a meet-up in London to discuss what we have read. You can be sure of lively, well informed discussion.

When and Where

Reading Period:

January – June 2015


The first book under discussion was Khaled Khalifa’s No Knives in the Kitchens of This City. London: Monday, March 2nd, at 7pm at The Prince of Wales pub, 2 Cleveland Terrace W2 6HL. In New York City: Tuesday, February 10th at 7pm, at Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, 224 W. 79th Street. In Washington DC: Monday, February 16th at 7pm. Contact Will Barnes at for location details.

The second and third books under discussion will be discussed in June: Salim Barakat’s The Caves of Hydrahodahose (order in Arabic from Neel Wa Furat here; or order a copy with Saqi Books if you’re in London. The novel has also been translated into French by Bayan Salman, and is available as Les Grottes de Haydrahodahus, publ. Actes Sud, 2008) and The Gist of It, a collection of short stories by Syrian author Rasha Abbas.

London meeting: 7pm on Wednesday, 10th June; Riverside Terrace Cafe, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX.

Get in touch (via if you live in Washington DC, San Francisco or New York, as meetings are planned too.

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