Saturday, 10 November 2012

W’Allah n’kitab!

Which I think means… ‘By God, a book!’ An Arab expression of wonder at the marvel of a book, if I’ve got it right. (I’m sure I read this somewhere…probably in a book.) As words become digital, weightless, odourless, I still marvel at the sheer pleasure of physical books. No more so than when, from time to time, the postman arrives at the door with a solid box containing my author’s copies of a translation of one of my books. And I’m almost always bowled over by the beauty of these – and the variety of taste in design and format that different countries go for. From Greece and Korea large format paperbacks with flaps – I love flaps, why don’t we go for these more in Britain –and generously large type; slim elegant hardbacks on pure white paper with sewn-in bookmarks from Germany; small chunky pocketbooks – almost square – from Turkey – and a hundred and one different approaches to typography, cover design, chapter openers, title pages.

The problem is, these books are so beautiful that I can’t bear to get rid of them. They are nesting under a bed in the spare room in greater and greater numbers. Sometimes I just take them out and look at them.  I usually can't read the words but I know what they say. W’Allah n’kitab indeed!


  1. I think they need to come out from under the bed and onto a book case built especially for them. Books you cannot read but love no less.

  2. I agree with JoAnn. Put those wonderful treasures out and admire their beauty. To be published is an enormous feat but to be translated is amazing. . .they are something to be proud of. Congratulations.