Fatin Abbas in Conversation with Leila Aboulela

We are thrilled to be launching Ghost Season, by debut author Fatin Abbas in a virtual conversation with River Spirit (Saqi Books) author, Leila Aboulela.

This conversation, open to a global audience, will see both authors in conversation about Abbas’ debut novel, exploring the way that Ghost Season dissects political landscapes using unlikely communities thrown together at the border of conflict.

Partnering with us on the event is Library Of Africa and The African Diaspora (LOATAD) who will be hosting an in-person book club at their Accra location in September 2023 following this event . 

Books will be sold via The Portobello Bookshop, an independent bookshop based in Edinburgh’s seaside community of Portobello [for UK readers only].

Date: 31st August 2023

Time: 6:30pm BST

Location: Zoom (link provided on registration)


About Ghost Season

A dynamic, beautifully orchestrated debut novel connecting five characters caught in the crosshairs of conflict on the Sudanese border.

A mysterious burnt corpse appears one morning in Saraaya, a remote border town between northern and southern Sudan. For five strangers on an NGO compound, the discovery foreshadows trouble to come.

South Sudanese translator William connects the corpse to the sudden disappearance of cook Layla, a northern nomad with whom he’s fallen in love. Meanwhile, Sudanese American filmmaker Dena struggles to connect to her unfamiliar homeland, and white midwestern aid worker Alex finds his plans thwarted by a changing climate and looming civil war. Dancing between the adults is Mustafa, a clever, endearing twelve-year-old, whose schemes to rise out of poverty set off cataclysmic events on the compound.

Amid the paradoxes of identity, art, humanitarian aid, and a territory riven by conflict, William, Layla, Dena, Alex, and Mustafa must forge bonds stronger than blood or identity. Weaving a sweeping history of the breakup of Sudan into the lives of these captivating characters, Fatin Abbas explores the porous and perilous nature of borders―whether they be national, ethnic, or religious―and the profound consequences for those who cross them.

Ghost Season is a gripping, vivid debut that announces Abbas as a powerful new voice in fiction.

About Fatin Abbas

Fatin Abbas is a writer and scholar whose work lies at the intersection of African and Middle Eastern studies, literature, migration, gender and visual studies.

Born in Khartoum, Sudan and raised in New York, she gained her BA in English from the University of Cambridge, her PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University, and her MFA in Creative Writing from Hunter College, the City University of New York, where she was awarded both the Bernard Cohen Short Story Prize and the Miriam Weinberg Richter Award for her writing.

About Leila Aboulela 

LEILA ABOULELA was born in Cairo, grew up in Khartoum, and moved to Aberdeen in her mid-twenties. Nominated three times for the Orange Prize (now the Women’s Prize for Fiction,) she is the author of five novels, including Bird Summons, The Translator, and Lyrics Alley, which was Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards. Leila was the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, and her short story collection, Elsewhere Home, won the Saltire Fiction Book of the Year Award.


About The Portobello Bookshop

The Portobello Bookshop is located in what was formerly a fishing tackle shop (Mike’s Tackle Shop) for 30 years, and before that was an old cooperative — something we discovered after removing the frontage of the tackle shop.

Extensive renovations took place from January 2019 to June 2019, during which time we discovered the lovely columns that are now a staple of the shop’s interior, which were hiding beneath plasterboard walls. The aim was to create a warm, modern, open space that’s welcoming and pleasure to spend time browsing books in, and which allows us to host a great events programme.

We opened in July 2019 and, whilst we our first couple of years were extremely different from what we’d anticipated, we’re glad to have made it through a global pandemic and are looking forward to many more years of bookselling.

We’re a general bookshop so stock all kinds of fiction and non-fiction. Our staff are passionate and experienced booksellers who put a lot of love and time into curating our stock, ensuring we bring customers what we feel is an original, diverse and lovely selection of books across most genres.


The Library Of Africa and The African Diaspora (LOATAD) is a private library in Accra, Ghana, founded in 2017 under the name, Libreria Ghana, by Sylvia Arthur. Using 1,300 of her own books, which she’d accumulated over a period of about five years, the idea was to give local people access to contemporary, culturally-relevant literature not easily available in Ghana. The majority of the books in her collection were by writers of African descent. 

Started in a one-room office, the library attracted significant national and international attention and quickly outgrew itself. In 2020, Libreria rebranded as the Library Of Africa and The African Diaspora and moved to a bigger space that includes a special collections/archive room, a screening room and extensive outdoor event space.

LOATAD’s focus is on books by writers of African descent including African, African American, Caribbean, Black European, Afro-Latin, and Indigenous writers. The library has over 4000 volumes of literary fiction and narrative nonfiction dating from the early 20th century to the present day. From Algeria to Kenya, Liberia to Zimbabwe, our collection represents the rich diversity of the African continent and its vast Diasporas.

Since its inception, the library’s mission has evolved to help address the serious literacy challenges that many across the country and the continent face. We believe in literacy and literature for all, and we strive to make both accessible regardless of geographic location, gender, age, disability, or religious or sexual orientation. We pride ourselves on being an inclusive space.