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  • Tinder Press

These Bodies of Water: Notes on the British Empire, the Middle East and Where We Meet

Sabrina Mahfouz

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Memoirs

A powerful meditation on the influence of the British Empire in the Middle East, intertwining history, politics, poetry, myth and personal experience from poet and playwright Sabrina Mahfouz

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.

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Sabrina Mahfouz

Sabrina Mahfouz was raised in London and Cairo and has recently been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and is the recipient of the 2018 King's Alumni Arts & Culture Award for inspiring change in the industry.

She was also nominated for the Inspiring Change Award at the 2018 Women in the Creative Industries Awards and her Snapchat series for C4's Ackley Bridge won a Broadcast Digital Award. She has been shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Award for Performance Poetry and has won a Sky Arts Academy Award for Poetry and a Westminster Prize for New Playwrights.

Sabrina's theatre work includes Chef, a Fringe First Award winner; Dry Ice, for which she was nominated in The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence; With a Little Bit of Luck, which has been performed at the Roundhouse main space and was the first radio drama commissioned for BBC Radio 1xtra. She is currently adapting Malorie Blackman's celebrated novel Noughts & Crosses for Pilot Theatre.

She also writes for children and her play Zeraffa Giraffa (based on the book by Diane Hofmeyr) won a 2018 Off West End Award.

Her poetry collection, How You Might Know Me, was a 2017 Guardian Best Summer Read.

Sabrina is the editor of The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write, a 2017 Guardian Book of the Year and currently nominated for The People's Book Prize.

She is an essay contributor to the multi-award-winning The Good Immigrant and is currently writing a biopic of the legendary 'Godfather of Grime', rapper and producer Wiley, for Pulse Films.

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