These Bodies of Water

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What to expect

Are you not made of Suez silt?
How do we know you won’t
shore our boats
by making yourself bigger
than we made you?

Sabrina Mahfouz once sat in a Whitehall interview room and was interrogated about everything from her political leanings to her private life. It was ostensibly a job interview, but implicit in their demands was the unspoken question: as a woman of Middle Eastern heritage, could she really be trusted?

Years later, Sabrina found herself confronting the meaning behind this interrogation, and how it was specifically informed by the British Empire’s historical dominance in the Middle East. THESE BODIES OF WATER investigates this history through the Middle Eastern coastlines and waterways that were so vital to the Empire’s hold. Interwoven with her own personal experiences, Sabrina combines history, politics, myth and poetry in a devastating examination of this unacknowledged part of Britain’s colonial past.

Part history, part polemic and part intimate memoir, THESE BODIES OF WATER is a tapestry of writing that tells the story of Britain’s relationship with the Middle East in the most revealing terms.

(P) 2022 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

Critics Review

  • Sabrina Mahfouz is a tidal wave of truth swallowing the banks of empire with a torrent of information which will not be damned. These Bodies of Water is so vast, yet achingly intimate. It is a brilliant piece of work which had me hooked from start to finish.

    Lemn Sissay
  • These Bodies of Water is a bold, brave look at the ways imperialism affects us all, from the universally political to the insightfully intimate

    Riz Ahmed
  • Sabrina Mahfouz’s poetic talents come to the forefront in this lyrical meditation on the influence of the British Empire in the Middle East. Part memoir, part history, These Bodies of Water defies categorisation in favour of a lucid, tumbling narrative that sweeps you along for the ride. Like all truly brilliant books, it’s impossible to put down while you’re reading, and impossible to forget about when you’ve finished

  • Sabrina is a writer of staggering conviction, ingenuity and integrity. Her skills are mighty, her language is beautiful and precise. She’s a real one

    Kae Tempest
  • Brilliant and profound…this book is about coastlines, cities, climate collapse and capitalism. There’s so much going on in it. It’s marvellous

    Nikseh Shukla
  • A brilliant and fascinating history of the Middle East, forcing us to rethink everything we thought we knew. A completely necessary book for us all as we sit in a post-Brexit world, once more considering boundaries and border lines. Sabrina writes beautifully, using prose, rhythm and poetry, to combine history and memoir in one of the most compelling journeys through the Middle East

    Salma El-Wardany

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