Bothayna Al Essa

Bothayna Al Essa


بثينة العيسى

Bothayna Al Essa, born in 1982, is a prolific novelist from Kuwait. She is the author of ten novels, and the co-founder of Takween, a cultural platform, publishing house, and bookstore. Her novels include: Kharait al-Tayh (Lost in Mecca, tr. Nada Faris) and Kabirtu wa Nasaitu an Ansa (All That I Want to Forget, tr. Michele Henjum), both translated into English; Tahta Aqdam al-Ummahat (translated into Persian by Ruhallah Rahimi); Haris Sah al-Alam (The Book Censor’s Library, tr. Ranya Abdelrahman and Sawad Hussain). Al Essa has been writing full time since 2013 and was awarded Kuwait’s National Encouragement Award twice for her fiction: in 2003 and 2012. She also writes about writing and delivers creative writing workshops throughout the Arab region. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Kuwait University with a major in finance.

© Hoopoe
Date of birth : 1982
Country of birth: Kuwait
Country of residence: Kuwait

Selected bibliography

  • حارس سطح العالم, The Book Censor’s Library, Takween Publishing, Kuwait, 2019. English translation: The Book Censor’s Library, Restless Books, United States, forthcoming 2024, transl. by Ranya Abdelrahman and Sawad Hussain. See translation sample:
  • خرائط التيه, Maps of Wandering*, Arab Scientific Publishers, Lebanon, 2015. English translation: Lost in Mecca, Dar Arab, United Kingdom, 2023, transl. by Nada Faris. See translation sample:
  • كبرت ونسيت أن أنسى, I Grew Up and Forgot to Forget*, Arab Scientific Publishers, Lebanon, 2013. English translation: All That I Want to Forget, Hoopoe Fiction, Egypt, 2019, transl. by Michele Henjum. See translation sample:
  • تحت أقدام الأمهات, Under Our Mothers’ Feet*, Arab Scientific Publishers, Lebanon, 2009
  • سعار, Frenzy*, The Arab Institute for Research & Publishing, Lebanon, 2005

* Working title


Bothayna Al-Essa Named 2023 BCLT Writer in Residence by Arablit, February 2023

Bothayna Al-Essa: Literature Saves Us Years of Personal Growth by Sekka Mag, August 2022

Banning those who ban : Jemimah Steinfeld talks to the Kuwaiti author about a landmark case in the country that saw a ban on books overturned by Index on Censorship, December 2020

Arabisk London Interviewing Kuwaiti Writer Bothayna Al-Essa by Arabisk London, September 2019


Prizes and awards

  • Kuwait’s National Encouragement Award, in 2003 and 2012
  • 2023 Arabic writer-in-residence at the British Centre for Literary Translation

Book(s) featured on this site

Reviewed by Nariman Youssef