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  • Writer's pictureSaara El-Arifi

Borough snatches up El-Arifi’s CLEOPATRA in eve-of-fair pre-empt

Suzie Dooré, Editor at Large for The Borough Press, has swiftly pre-empted two literary historical novels by Saara El-Arifi - CLEOPATRA and THE QUEEN OF SHEBA - from Juliet Mushens at Mushens Entertainment. Rights acquired were UK and Commonwealth

excluding Canada, with the first book scheduled in 2025.

CLEOPATRA will retell the story of Egypt’s most famous queen, the most iconic woman in

history, and opens at the moment she discovers that her father has died and she is Pharaoh.

El-Arifi, already a Sunday Times bestseller on HarperFiction’s Voyager list with two trilogies underway – The Ending Fire and Faebound – recently completed an MA in African Studies at SOAS, specialising in Cleopatra as her dissertation subject.

Saara El-Arifi said: ‘I'm overjoyed that I get to bring my rendition of Cleopatra to the page,

interweaving history and myth in a fresh interpretation of the last Pharaoh of Egypt. That I

get to do it at Borough Press and with Suzie Dooré at my side promises readers something

truly magical.’

Suzie Dooré said: ‘I have obviously long admired Saara’s previous novels on our sister

imprint, Voyager, so I almost bit Juliet’s hand off when she first mentioned this new

direction for her – I can’t imagine a more perfect combination of novelist and subject. The

world needs a fictionalised retelling of the life of this beyond-iconic woman from a female

writer of colour, especially one with Saara’s unique storytelling abilities. Even the opening

line gave me goosebumps – this book will become the definitive fictional work about


Juliet Mushens said: ‘As soon as Saara told me that she wanted to bring the story of

Cleopatra to life, I was over the moon – I think Suzie Dooré and The Borough Press will be

the perfect home to launch this strand of her publishing career.’

Saara El-Arifi was raised in the Middle East until her formative years, when her family moved to a village outside of Sheffield. After a decade of working in marketing and communications, she returned to academia to complete a master’s degree in African studies alongside her writing career. Through her novels, El-Arifi explores her own West African and Arab heritage, centering diverse characters and multicultural worlds.


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