Iman Mersal

Iman Mersal


إيمان مرسال

Iman Mersal was born and raised in a small village in the Nile Delta. Her childhood was marked by the premature death of her mother. As a student at Mansura university, she joined a Marxist group with which she published a feminist magazine, Bint al-ard (Daughter of the Earth). Shortly after moving to Cairo to pursue her studies, she published her first collection of poems (1990) and joined the young poetic and literary avant-garde that became known as the generation of the 1990s. After publishing two new collections (1995 and 1997) she emigrated with her husband in 1998 to Boston, and then to Edmonton (Canada), where she works as an Associate Professor of Arabic Literature at the University of Alberta. However, she has maintained a close relationship with her native country, where she has since published two other collections of poems (2006 and 2013), as well as two prose books (2016 and 2019). She is also the translator of a novel and a memoir from English into Arabic (2011 and 2016). Her books and poems have been widely translated into numerous languages, whether in collective anthologies, literary magazines, and individual collections and she has read in numerous poetry festivals around the world. Her recent creative non-fiction books are highly original pieces of writing that blend academic research and intimate reflections on a great variety of topics, most of which have to do with her identity as a woman and as an artist. 

Date of birth : 1966
Country of birth: Egypt
Country of residence: Canada & Egypt
Publisher(s): Kotob Khan
Contact: Szilvia Molnar (agent)

Selected bibliography

  • في أثر عنايات الزيات, Traces of Enayat, Kotob Khan, Egypt, 2019. French translation: Sur les traces d’Enayat Zayyat (excerpt available), Actes Sud/Sindbad, France, 2021, trans. by Richard Jacquemond; English translation: Traces of Enayat, And Other Stories, UK, 2023, trans. by Robin Moger
  • كيف تلتئم. الأمومة وأشباحها, How to Mend, Motherhood and Its Ghosts, Mophradat, Germany, 2017. English translation: How to Mend, Motherhood and Its Ghosts, Kayfa ta & Sternberg Press, Germany, 2018, trans. by Robin Moger

Translated anthologies of her poems:

  • French translation: Des choses m’ont échappé, Actes Sud/Sindbad, France, 2018, trans. by Richard Jacquemond
  • Spanish translations: Caminar cuanto sea posible, Huerga y Fierro Editores, Spain, 2012, trans. by Laura Salguero Esteban & Margarita Ossorio Menéndez; Geografia alternativa, Libros del Aire, Spain, 2014, trans. by Laura Salguero Esteban & Margarita Ossorio Menéndez
  • English translations: These Are Not Oranges, My Love, The Sheep Meadow Press, US, 2008, trans. by Khaled Mattawa; The Threshold, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, US, 2022, trans by. Robyn Creswell


Lauréate du prix Sheikh Zayed 2021, l’autrice égyptienne Iman Mersal revient dans son ouvrage sur le destin d’une jeune écrivaine qui s’est donné la mort avant d’être publiée. Elle y dresse le portrait grinçant de l’époque nassérienne, longtemps romantisée (in French) by Middle East Eye, July 2021
Une quête et un récit atypiques, mais aussi une invitation à revisiter la nostalgie égyptienne des années 1950-1960 (in French) by Orient XXI, July 2021

Prizes and awards

  • في أثر عنايات الزيات, Traces of Enayat, Shaykh Zayed Book Award in Literature 2021
  • Sur les traces d’Enayat Zayyat, translation prize Ibn Khaldoun-Senghor, 2021

Book(s) featured on this site

Reviewed by Richard Jacquemond