S. F. Said

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S.F. Said
Born S. F. Said
Beirut, Lebanon
Occupation Writer
Nationality British
Period 2003–present
Genre Children's fantasy, science fiction
Notable works Varjak Paw

S. F. Said (born 1967) is a British children's writer.

Said was born in Beirut[1] in 1967 and spent his first years in Jordan. He grew up in the Iraqi diasporic community in London, moving there with his mother at the age of two. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, he worked as a press attaché and speech writer for the Crown Prince of Jordan’s office in London for six years.[2] He began a Ph.D. in 1997 looking at the lives of young Muslims in Britain, but left academia to focus on film journalism for the Daily Telegraph – where he brought attention to much so-called world cinema, including contemporary Islamic cinema – and on writing for children.

His first novel was Varjak Paw, illustrated by Dave McKean and published by David Fickling Books in January 2003; four months later in the U.S.[3] Said wrote 17 drafts of the book.[4] It tells the story of a Mesopotamian Blue cat called Varjak who leaves his sheltered upbringing to explore the city and learn the "Seven Skills of the Way", taught to him in dreams by his ancestor Jalal. In his dreams, Varjak finds himself transported from his gritty urban surroundings to the deserts, rivers and mountains of Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq). With the Skills, he is able to fight the Gentleman and, in The Outlaw Varjak Paw (2005), the domineering "white cat with one eye", Sally Bones, who is invading the territories of other cats and ruling them with torture and terror. Varjak Paw won the 2003 Nestlé Smarties Book Prize, reader ages 6–8 years, and The Outlaw Varjak Paw won the 2007 Blue Peter Book of the Year. Varjak was staged as a play by Playbox Theatre, and was performed as an opera by The Opera Group in 2008.

Phoenix (2013) is a longer novel written for older children. The Internet Speculative Fiction Database calls it young-adult science fiction rather than (animal) fantasy.[3] It made the shortlist of four books for the 2014 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, whose judges recommended it for ages 10 and up, and whose coverage by The Guardian called it a "space epic".[5][6]




  1. ^ http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/wanstead_woodford_news/11739739.Author_enlightens_pupils_with_book_visit/
  2. ^ http://gulfnews.com/culture/people/s-f-said-just-tries-to-write-stories-he-loves-1.1488342
  3. ^ a b c S. F. Said at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 2015-01-21. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  4. ^ http://gulfnews.com/culture/people/s-f-said-just-tries-to-write-stories-he-loves-1.1488342
  5. ^ "The Guardian children's fiction prize longlist 2014 – in pictures". The Guardian. 28 June 2014. Retrieved 2015-01-21.
  6. ^ "Guardian children's fiction award shortlist 2014". Emily Drabble. The Guardian. 4 October 2014. Retrieved 2015-01-21.

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