Starting off as a Jordanian blogger, I never dreamt of the day I will be launching my book in UK. And It just happened!


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With Brian Whitaker in Waterstones Brighton

On my way back to Dubai after a week of touring UK to launch “The Bride of Amman”. I have to admit, when I first wrote the novel, this hasn’t been in my wildest dreams. Getting published in Arabic is a hassle, having a successful book is a feat, getting it translated into English is a dream, and running book signing events in 5 different cities in the UK is something else. On top of all of that, I was honored to have the chance to speak at The Middle East Center of St. Anthony College in Oxford University and also in one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the UK, Eton College, and and and, I was joined in the last two events (in London and Brighton) with a writer I have admired and read his book few years ago, a guardian journalist and author of “Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East” and “Arabs Without Gods: Atheism and Freedom of Belief in the Arab WorldBrian Whitaker.

me and Ruth talking at Oxford University

me and Ruth talking at Oxford University

Of course, nothing of that would have happened without Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp. She is such a lovely person, full of energy and kindness. She hosted me in her beautiful house. Ruth has been organizing this trip for a while now, setting up book signings and talks in 5 different UK cities: Cheltenham, Bristol, Oxford, Brighton and London. She didn’t stop there, but also squeezed in a lovely visit to the British Library where Dan Lowe (it was a pleasure meeting you Dan) showed us old Arabic manuscripts that addresses sexuality. And also Eton’s college visit where we met Haroon Shirwani head of Arabic departmen who also showed us their own priceless collection of Arabic manuscripts (thank you Haroon). Ruth has also succeeded in setting us up for a radio interview in ShoutOut radio station in Bristol (thank you Evan).

with Eton's students

with Eton’s students

When Ruth contacting me via Twitter in 2013 after getting a hold on “Arous Amman” (the Arabic version of The Bride of Amman) while visiting Jordan, I didn’t realize how lucky I am that she popped up in my life. At the time she wanted to translate an except from the book and submit to “Words Without Borders” Literary Magazine, and I was happy to accept. Few months down the line, when I signed a contract with Signal8Press to get the book in English, I knew who I should ask. Gladly, she was on board. But even then, I never anticipated that such tour would be in my horizon. Looking back 10 years ago, when I published my first blog, I’d say that I am more than happy to reach where I am today. It wasn’t only the joy of writing every word and sentence, on my blog, and in my books, but also the wonderful journey of debating my ideas and getting to meet successful and wonderful people all around. I have to admit that I do enjoy doing all of the public relations activities: running interviews, being in book discussions and debates around my writings, getting readers’ feedback and building relations with people in the field. It is such a joy!

Window view for the suffolks bookshop in Cheltenham

Window view for the suffolks bookshop in Cheltenham

Event announcement in Oxford Uni

Event announcement in Oxford Uni

Funny, things aren’t usually as rosy as it is when the book is out. The process of writing a book is long, and it is not easy. It requires discipline and commitment. And I can’t deny that like anyone else in the creative industry, it is always a worry to maintain and overdo previous success and assure that your future work is as good or even better than your previous one. I was too worried before my second book “Janna Ala Al Ard’ was released. It was the second step that would establish me as a writer. The topic itself was tricky, siding off gender and sexuality where I have all of the support and delving into speculative fiction of a story from the future. That has also happened at a time I was back to school for my MA. I remember when I was done with my degree and where back in Jordan looking for a job again. It was a tough period where I was too worried about the little savings that had left with me at the time, and not knowing what will come next. I focused on the book, and even after I secured a job (3 months later), I still was committed to the book till I completed it in April 2014. It was a tough period as well as a month later I was moving to a job in Ajman in a totally new environment. I remember my first few days in Ajman sitting in a cafe at the cornish with the whole text printed out, reviewing every word and doing my last edits. The work on Janna had just started, not finished, I needed to secure a publisher, and having a successful first book didn’t actually give me a passing card to get publishers interested in the second. I sent the text to couple of them and was hoping, really hoping, that Dar Al Adab would show interest. On their website, they say that they have a committee of avid readers who assess submitted books and write a report accordingly. They told that they need 2 months to review it, and it took them 3. When the report hit my email, I was flying with joy! I couldn’t believe my eyes, reading it over and over again, their acknowledgment of the book as worthy enough to be one of theirs.

The Arts Cafe in Bristol

The Arts Cafe in Bristol

We then set a launch date in November, and now, a year after, I am more than happy with the reactions. People has been loving it and acknowledging it as a quality work of speculative fiction that is rare in the arab world. I have also secured another publishing contract with Signal8Press to get the book out in English in early 2017. I hoped that Ruth will be with us on this project but she has a full plate of books to translate next year. She has thankfully introduced me to another brilliant translator Sawad Hussain whom I look forward to work with. (on a side note, I am loving the world of the translators community).

The Bride of Amman on display during the launch event at Gay's the word bookshop in London

The Bride of Amman on display during the launch event at Gay’s the word bookshop in London

The year has been good to me in terms of my writing career. Alef’s conference and launch of Janna in Amman was beyond my expectations. It is something that I will always remember. It was also wonderful to run some important TV interviews during the year on Roya TV, MBC, MTV Lebanon, and OSN (to be aired soon), as well as two magazine interviews in both Living Well and Layali Amman Magazines.

All of this is a reminder that I need to get back to the same discipline and commitment and continue working on my third book which I started early in the year. Hard work do pay off, and I look forward to seeing what the years are hiding ahead.

Cheers everyone!

The Bride of Amman – upcoming UK tour!


UK trip schedule is ready.. we are having events in London, Oxford, Bristol, Cheltenham and Brighton to launch “The Bride of Amman” Join me and Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

The Bride of Amman: Sexual freedoms and body rights in the Middle East

Join Fadi Zaghmout as he discusses civil rights and gender politics in the Arab world and reads from his new novel, out now in English translation.

With Brian Whitaker, Guardian journalist and author of Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East (London and Brighton)

The Suffolk Anthology bookshop, Cheltenham – 7pm, Mon 9 November

The Middle East Centre, St. Anthony’s College, Oxford – 5pm, Tuesday 10 November

The Arts House Café, Bristol – 7pm, Wed 11 November

Gay’s the Word bookshop, London, with Brian Whitaker – 7pm, Thurs 12 November

Waterstones, Brighton, with Brian Whitaker – 7.30pm, Fri 13 November

Thank you to all our hosts, and thank you everyone for helping to spread the word!

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10 blurbs from distinguished figures for The Bride of Amman


The Bride of Amman is finally out in English and I am more than happy and thankful for the endorsement of the following wonderful people. I am honoured for their words.

1. Hanan Al Sheikh, author of Women of Sand and Myth, The Story of Zahra, and One Thousand and one Nights:

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2. Shereen El Feki, author of Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World.

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3. Matthew Weinart, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Political Science & International Relations Department, University of Delaware:

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4. George Azzi, gender and sexual rights activist, co-founder of AFE and Helem:

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5. Fadia Faqir, author of Willow Trees Don’t Weep:

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6. Wafa AlKhadra, Professor at American University of Madaba, Jordan:

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7. Nermeen Murad, Chief of Party of USAID Takamol Gender Program; writer, columnist, gender and human rights advocate:

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8. Saba Mubarak, Jordanian Actress and Producer:

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9. Madian Al Jazeera, owner of the books@cafe, Amman Jordan:

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10. Sridhar Rangayan, film maker and activist, Mumbai, India

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The Jordan Times reviews “The Bride of Amman” and they love it!


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A review for The Bride of Amman on The Jordan Times by Sally Bland. Posted on 5th July 2015.

Full review:

The book cover displays the cognitive dissonance and inner conflict experienced by all the major characters in “The Bride of Amman”. While the title would seem to signal happiness, the face of the woman pictured next to it is full of anxiety and pain. Marriage, and all the expectations attached to it, is just one of the societal norms which author Fadi Zaghmout problematises in his novel.

Hard-hitting prose quickly draws the reader into the lives of four young women and a man living in today’s Amman. They are close friends and share many things, not least, the risk of total devastation if they do not abide by the rules. Some refuse to be boxed in by social norms and consciously make defiant choices, while others are unwittingly set on a collision course with family and society through no fault of their own. All are seeking love and respect. They start off as irrepressible romantics, but events carve hard, cynical edges on their souls, as they discover that it is hard to remain true to their values and dreams amidst pervasive social pressure to conform.

Leila’s happiness at obtaining her degree is marred when she finds that this is not enough for her parents, relatives and neighbours, who consider it only a prelude to marriage. It is not that she rejects the idea of marriage, but she had hoped for more recognition of her academic achievement.

Salma, Leila’s older sister, suffers from remaining single, and is deeply wounded upon hearing her grandmother describe her as “an unplucked fruit left to rot”, as she nears her thirtieth birthday — her “expiry date”. (p. 22)

The story shows that judging women only by their marriageability can have catastrophic consequences.

Hayat loses her job when someone reports on her relationship with a married man, leaving her feeling vulnerable and terrified at the loss of social respect and of income she needs to finish university and contribute to her family’s upkeep. Her vulnerability is amplified by her father’s sexual abuse, which colours her self-esteem and relationships.

Rana has a more analytical view of society than her friends: “I’m rebellious by nature… very conscious of the contradictory messages I get from the world around me. Everyone seems to want to construct my moral framework for me, in a society that strikes me as schizophrenic and very masculine. Whereas I’m a female, a young woman trying to feed a craving for gender equality and personal freedom.” (p. 38)

But her awareness doesn’t protect her entirely from the dilemmas she faces after falling in love with a Muslim — a love she must keep secret from her conservative Christian family.

Ali is also under a lot of pressure to get married. In fact, he does want a family, but his preference for his own sex means that a traditional marriage would be living a lie.

By letting his characters tell their stories, Zaghmout delivers a radical critique of society from a feminist/outsider perspective, producing one of few books written by men that convincingly convey the women’s angle. Michael Cunningham’s “The Hours”, Amitov Ghosh’s “Sea of Poppies” and Arthur Golden’s “Memoirs of a Geisha” come to mind.

Zaghmout’s book is not a literary novel like theirs; in fact, it verges on melodrama, but it is a story that needs to be told, a novel that obviously emerges from strong motivation to catalyse social change. Having originally written “The Bride of Amman” in Arabic testifies that his aim is to generate discussion, not simply to expose.

Transgressing taboos opens the characters up to new sides of their personalities and more positive ways of relating to others. “Are our ideas like clothes?” Leila queries. “They seem to fit initially, but they become too small for us as our awareness about our surroundings grows, and then it’s perhaps time to throw them off and replace them with new ways of thinking.” (p. 227)

While Zaghmout declares war on outdated social norms that complicate and sometimes destroy people’s lives, he does not declare war on society as such. The story points to a number of avenues for reconciliation if only people are open-minded and respectful of others’ individuality and dreams. “The Bride of Amman” is a brave intervention in a debate that is going on just below the radar. Let’s bring it out in the open, he seems to be saying.

“The Bride of Amman” is out for pre-orders


I can’t believe that this is finally happening. The English translation of “Aroos Amman” is finally ready and up for pre-orders. It is already out there on Amazon.com (paperback)! and a publishing date is set on 21th July. I am so happy about the translation and so thankful for Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp who has done a great job in brining my written words into English. I am also very thankful for my publisher (signal8press) for the great work put into ensuring best quality of the English production. It was a long process but I enjoyed working with both of them and witnessed them shaping what I thought to be a good book even better.

When I first started blogging in 2006, I wanted to communicate issues of sexual and body rights that were not addressed by traditional media at the time. I could see how our cultural heritage and obsession in regulating sexuality is making an already tough life due to economical conditions even tougher. I wanted to open missed debates around these issues in hope of change. Few years down the road, I was able to collect my thoughts into a full story, a novel that came out in January 2012. At the time, I didn’t anticipate this success of Aroos Amman, and didn’t anticipate the huge amount I received. People seem to be fed up with the old doctrine that limits their body and sexual freedoms. They are happy to see someone bringing it up right front and are ready to fight for it themselves.

Today with the book coming out to English, I am hoping for a wider reach that could trigger even bigger change.

Thank you all for your love and support.

I dedicate this book to Arab young men and women: those who are struggling to conform, those who are fighting for autonomy over their own bodies, and those advocating for sexual rights.

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