Six Degrees of Separation: From The Book of Ramallah to The Book of Istanbul

It’s the first Saturday of the month and time once again for Six Degrees of Separation, hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. This month we start our chains with the book that was the final link in last month’s chain.

I chose The Book of Ramallah, a collection of short stories by writers from or based in this Palestinian city. This month, I’m going to use it to promote the books of its Manchester-based radical left wing publisher, Comma Press, and the female editors and writers featured in their books.

The Book of Ramallah was edited by Maya Abu Al-Hayat, a poet and novelist whose novels, as far as I can tell, have yet to be translated into English.

One of Al-Hayat’s short stories appears in the anthology All Walls Collapse, a collection that explores how people and communities cope with the walls built to pen them in or keep them out.

This anthology was co-edited by Sarah Cleave, who also edited Banthology for Comma Press, a collection of writing in response to the 45th US President banning people from seven Muslim countries from entering the USA. The writers in this anthology are drawn from the banned countries, including Najwa Bin Shatwan, a Libyan academic and novelist.

Bin Shatwan co-authored a piece for the Comma Press anthology The American Way. This collection looks back over a 75-year period of the USA intervening militarily in other countries and what that intervention means locally and globally.

Orsola Casagrande, who co-edited The American Way, is a Cuban journalist and film maker. She has edited a number of anthologies for Comma. For my next link, I’ve chosen another of those anthologies, the speculative science fiction collection Kurdistan +100, which will be published in November this year.

Kurdistan +100 features the Turkish writer Sema Kaygusuz, a leading light amongst Turkey’s female writers. Comma Press has published an anthology of Kayagusuz’s short stories, The Well of Trapped Words.

Kaygusuz also has a story in The Book of Istanbul, another anthology from the same series as my starting book this month.

As well as being linked by the publisher and the women who write and edit their books, my chain this month has another link. Aside from the starting book, I haven’t read a single title on my list. Comma Press is one of those publishers where I want to read everything in their catalogue. At least with this Six Degrees chain I’ve been able to prioritise a few titles for a future spending spree.

Are you taking part this month? If you haven’t taken part before, maybe you could start with the last book you finished, or take inspiration from the other readers who have created chains this month. Pop over to Kate’s blog to find links to other people’s chains.

9 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From The Book of Ramallah to The Book of Istanbul

    1. I’m overwhelmed by Comma’s catalogue. There are so many that I want to read that I find it hard to choose. Buying blind when you’re not sure of the content is a luxury, I agree. Luckily for me, they often have a stand at the Northern Publisher’s Fair in Manchester. I’ve used that as an opportunity to flick through before buying. I’ve enjoyed the two anthologies I’ve read so far and feel like whatever I buy next will be good.


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