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
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.