Past Event

We Wrote in Symbols: Reclaiming, Restoring, and Representing Arab Women Narratives

January 18, 2022
6:30 PM - 7:30 PM
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We Wrote in Symbols masterfully celebrates the works of 75 female writers of Arab heritage who articulate love and lust with artistry and skill. This unique anthology includes short stories, novel excerpts, and poetry from the classical period to the modern day. As an edited collection centered on the topics of desire, agency, and gender, We Wrote in Symbols: Love and Lust by Arab Women Writers is considered ground-breaking and one of the first of its kind.

Panelists will discuss their different perspectives and contributions in the literary sphere, with special reference to their involvement with We Wrote in Symbols. They will also share their thoughts on how Arab women’s creative voices can be nourished and strengthened by reshaping a tradition of literature not often spotlighted.


Selma Dabbagh

Selma Dabbagh is the editor of We Wrote in Symbols, and a British-Palestinian writer of fiction. Her first novel Out of It, set between London, Gaza and the Gulf was a Guardian Book of the Year and was awarded the Premio Opera in Spoleto in 2019. She also writes short stories that have appeared in Granta, International PEN, Wasafiri magazine as well as in several anthologies published by Saqi Books. Her writing often, but not always, focuses on the contemporary Middle East, diaspora experiences and Palestinian themes. Selma also works on scripts for film and TV as well as plays for radio and stage.

Lynn Gaspard

Lynn Gaspard is the publisher of Saqi Books. Shortlisted for the Independent Publishers Guild Young Publisher of the Year Award in 2013, Lynn is a trustee of the Shubbak Festival and sits on the English PEN Writers in Translation Committee.


Lynx Qualey

Moderated by:

Marcia Lynx-Qualey
is a writer, translator, and the founding editor-in-chief of ArabLit, which is a translator-centered collective that produces the ArabLit Quarterly, ALQ Books, a website, and a limited book series focused on Arabic. A freelance journalist based in Cairo, Marcia keeps her finger on the pulse of the Arab literary sphere, and Arab Lit is the conduit through which she brings her expertise and discoveries to the English-speaking world. Her coverage spans a wide range of genres and countries.


Safwan Masri

Introduced by:

Safwan M. Masri 
is Professor and Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University. He is also a Senior Research Scholar at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. Masri is the author of Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly (Columbia University Press, 2017). He served as Vice Dean of Columbia Business School from 1993 to 2006. Masri is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and an honorary fellow of the Foreign Policy Association.