Noor Naga is an Alexandrian writer who was born in Philadelphia, raised in Dubai, studied in Toronto, and now lives in Cairo. Her work has been published in GrantaLitHub, Poetry, The WalrusThe Common, The Offing, and more. In 2017, she won the Bronwen Wallace Award for Poetry and in 2019 she won both the RBC/PEN Canada New Voices Award and the DISQUIET Fiction Prize. Her verse-novel Washes, Prays was published by McClelland & Stewart in 2020. Set in Toronto, this genre-bending work follows an immigrant woman’s romantic relationship with a married man and her ensuing crisis of faith. (She turns, quite literally, into a dog.) It won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, as well as the Arab American Book Award, and was listed in the Best Canadian Poetry of 2020 by CBC.

Set in Cairo in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Naga’s debut novel, If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English,is a dark romance examining the gaps in North American identity politics, especially when exported overseas. In our globalized twenty-first-century world, this novel exposes the new faces (and races) of empire, asking who profiteers off of failed revolutions and, more importantly, who gets to write of its martyrs? If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English won the 2019 Graywolf Press Africa Prize and has been released in April of this year to rave reviews from Kirkus, Chicago Review of Books, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica and The New York Times, which called it an “exhilarating debut.” TIME magazine has listed it as one of its 100 Must-Read Books of 2022,” Kirkus deemed it one of the Best Fictional Voices of 2022, and it has been shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize.

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