Hanan Al-Shaykh is one of the boldest and most authoritative voices of contemporary Arabic literature. Loved by readers and critics alike, she has been translated into 28 languages.
Born and brought up in Lebanon, she then studied in Cairo. Returning to Beirut, she worked as a journalist until 1975 when she moved to Saudi Arabia after civil war broke out in Lebanon. Today she lives in London. She is the author of seven novels, including The Story of Zahra (1980, English translation 1994), initially rejected by Arabic publishers and censured in Islamic countries; Women of Sand & Myrrh (1982, English translation 1992); Only in London (1986, English translation 2001), a distinctive portrait of contemporary multiethnic society and Independent Foreign Fiction Prize finalist; Beirut Blues (1992); the collection of short stories I Sweep the Sun Off Rooftops (1994, English translation 2001) and a touching biography of her mother Kamila, The Locust and the Bird (2004, English translation 2009), a bestseller in her country and an international critical success. Hers is a blunt exposé of the difficulties of the feminine condition in a still rigidly conservative Arab society and of the political tensions during the civil war in Lebanon. Al-Shaikh has also written two plays, Dark Afternoon Tea and Paper Husband. In 2013 she published One Thousand and One Nights, a revisitation and theatre adaptation of several stories taken from the legendary Alf Layla Wa- Layla - the Arabian Nights commissioned by theatre director Tim Supple and staged in Toronto and Edinburgh.