The Book Smuggler

The Book Smuggler
مسرى الغرانيق في مدن العقيق
(Masra al gharanique fi modon al atiqua)

Written by

(أميمة الخميس)

Published by


In this novel, the Saudi writer Omaima El Khamis tells a fascinating story that takes place during the 11th century

Winner of the 2018 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, The Book Smuggler by Omaima Al Khamis, translated from the Arabic by Sarah Enany, recounts the adventures of Mazid Al-Hanafi as he travels to various capitals in the Middle East and Spain in the 11th century CE. His journey coincides with a time of transition, when political and religious conflicts were ubiquitous in the Islamic world. During this period, rivalry between factions was rampant and different sects had the upper hand in various places across the region.

Approximate number of pages: 560 p.

Foreign rights: contact the publisher


Reasons to publish this book

This book is a historical account of an era that is not well known to the European reader. It gives an insight into the early Islamic period that is enchanting and captures the reader’s imagination. Al Khamis has created an intricate historical world full of sensory details. The excellent descriptions of the bustling inns and market places – with stalls of spices, perfumes, pottery, fabrics and carpets – give the book the feel of a travelogue, but Al Khamis is just as interested in portraying medieval urban Islamic society and its conflicting ideas.


  • English


    by Sarah Enany

    published as

    The Book Smuggler in 2021 by Hoopoe Press

Prizes and awards


The way that Al-Khamis captures the era is reminiscent of the great Lebanese-born French author Amin Maalouf  by Arab News in May 2021

Besides striking this balance between the historical and the fictional, another remarkable feat of this novel is how Khamis succeeds to convey the ancient mood of the novel linguistically – by writing in exquisite classical Arabic by The National in May 2021

Al-Khamis creates an intricately realized historical world full of sensory details by The Markaz Review in May 2021 (book review)

Omaima al-Khamis takes us to the second decade of the eleventh century and drops us onto a caravan route between Baghdad and Jerusalem by A Bookish Type in March 2021 (blog article)

This is an absolutely superb book by The Modern Novel in 2021 (book review)



Reviewed by Persa Koumoutsi