Suhayl Saadi

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Suhayl Saadi (born 1961, Beverley, Yorkshire)[1][2] is a physician,[3] author and dramatist based in Glasgow, Scotland. His varied literary output[4] includes novels, short stories,[5][6] anthologies of fiction, song lyrics, plays for stage and radio theatre, and wisdom pieces for The Dawn Patrol, the Sarah Kennedy show on BBC Radio 2.


Psychoraag is not just
Midnight's Children-meets-Trainspotting.
Saadi is more thoughtful than Welsh or Rushdie.

Angus Calder, The Sunday Herald[7]

Saadi's 2004 novel,[8][9] Psychoraag, which won a PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, was also shortlisted[10] for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and nominated for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award[11] and the National Literary Award (the Patras Bokhari Prize) in Pakistan.

The Scottish Book Trust designated Psychoraag one of the 100 Best Scottish Books of all time.[12] The French translation was released in November 2007 by the Paris-based publisher Éditions Métailié.[13]

Suhayl Saadi has written about subjects as diverse as psychedelic music, Sufism, the British pantomime, the future of creativity, and the relationship of literature to global politics, for many periodicals, including The Independent, The Times, The Herald, The Sunday Herald, The Scotsman, and Spike Magazine,[14] and for the British Council. His short story collection, The Burning Mirror,[15][16] was shortlisted for the Saltire Society First Book Prize in 2001.

Saadi has written stage and radio plays including The Dark Island, The White Cliffs and Saame Sita.[1][4] He has edited or co-edited a number of anthologies including Shorts: The Macallan Scotland on Sunday Short Story Collection; A Fictional Guide to Scotland; and Freedom Spring: Ten Years On, a compilation of new writing from South Africa and Scotland. He has appeared widely on television, radio and in public literary readings and is currently working on another novel.

Suhayl Saadi has also written song lyrics for classical and folk-rock musical ensembles, including the Edinburgh-based Dunedin Consort,[17] and for the Africa-centred World AIDS Day Project Paradisum.[1][18] His work has appeared in translation in anthologies, as in 2006 in German in Cool Britannia (Al Kennedy, ed. Berlin: Verlag Klaus Wagenbach).

Among more recent works, Saadi wrote the libretto for Queens of Govan, one of five short operas commissioned in 2007 by the Scottish Opera for its 2008 "Five:15" project.[19][20][21][22]

Saadi is a board member and co-director of the arts production company Heer Productions Limited, which established the Pakistani Film, Media and Arts Festival[23] in the United Kingdom in 2005.

During the month of October 2008, Saadi was the British Council Writer-in-Residence at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.[24]

A novel, Joseph's Box, inspired by the Biblical/Quranic account of Joseph and Potiphar's wife, was published by Two Ravens Press in August 2009 and has been nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2011. The novel is set in Scotland, England, Sicily and Pakistan.


  • 2009: Joseph's Box. Ullapool: Two Ravens Press. Paperback: ISBN 978-1-906120-44-3.
  • 2004: Psychoraag. Edinburgh: Black & White Publishing. Hardcover: ISBN 1-84502-010-3. Paperback: ISBN 1-84502-062-6.
  • 2004: The White Cliffs. Dingwall: Sandstone Press. ISBN 0-9546333-1-8.
  • 2001: The Burning Mirror. Edinburgh: Polygon Books. Paperback: ISBN 0-7486-6293-6, ISBN 978-0-7486-6293-7.
  • 1997: The Snake. (Under the pen name Melanie Desmoulins.) Creation Books. Paperback: ISBN 1-871592-82-8.
  • 2006: Garden of the Fourteenth Moon.
  • 2005: The White Cliffs. Glasgow.
  • 2004: The Dark Island. London, BBC Radio 4.
  • 2003: Saame Sita. Edinburgh.

Saadi was also a contributor to Pax Edina: The One O' Clock Gun Anthology (Edinburgh, 2010)[26]



  1. ^ a b c "Successful in their own right: People from Paisley, Scotland". Paisley on the web: OOR PAISLEY. Archived from the original on 20 March 2007. External link in |work= (help)
  2. ^ Alan Taylor (4 April 2004). "Fable bodied". The Sunday Herald.
  3. ^ Jane Elliott (21 February 2005). "Interview with Dr. Suhayl Saadi: Patients influenced my writing". BBC News.
  4. ^ a b "Biography, Genres, Bibliography, Prizes & Awards". British Council Arts. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007.
  5. ^ Suhayl Saadi. "The Pier". Storyglossia online literary magazine Issue 2, May 2003. External link in |work= (help)
  6. ^ Suhayl Saadi. "Braga". Storyglossia online literary magazine Issue 3, June 2003. External link in |work= (help)
  7. ^ Angus Calder (25 April 2004). "Reviews: Saadi's all the rag". The Sunday Herald. 'Namaste ji, salaam alaikum, sat sri akal, welcome tae The Junoon Show. Ah’m Zaf, zed ayy eff – an yer listenin' tae Radio Chaandnii oan wavelength 99.9 meters ... ' When Suhayl Saadi's collection of short stories The Burning Mirror appeared three years ago, grateful readers noticed, among his very varied prose repertoire, a superb ear for Scottish speech. In his first novel, the ventriloquist goes his dinger. Zaf's idiolect mingles Weegie patter with phrases and curses from several sub-continental languages, French, Gaelic, and, of course, guid auld Scots.
  8. ^ "Suhayl Saadi talks about Psychoraag, his 2004 novel set in an Asian community radio station in Glasgow during a six-hour show". Front Row, BBC Radio 4. 14 May 2004.
  9. ^ "Reviews of Psychoraag on Books From Scotland". Archived from the original on 24 August 2006.
  10. ^ "James Tait Black Prizes". University of Edinburgh News & Events. 31 January 2005. Archived from the original on 12 February 2007.
  11. ^ "The 2006 Award: Psychoraag by Suhayl Saadi nominated". The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Archived from the original on 17 April 2007.
  12. ^ "100 Best Scottish Books of All Time". The List: Scottish Book Trust.
  13. ^ Traduit de l'anglais par Jean-Charles Perquin et Samuel Baudry. "Bibliothèque écossaise: Psychoraag" (in French). Éditions Métailié, November 2007. ISBN 978-2-86424-629-9. Archived from the original on 29 March 2008. templatestyles stripmarker in |publisher= at position 35 (help)
  14. ^ Suhayl Saadi (February 2006). "The Gods of the Door: Literary Censorship in the UK". Spike Magazine. I should say that I am very lucky to be based in Scotland – a country which has produced many wonderful writers of fiction, including, in recent years, Irvine Welsh, James Kelman, Alasdair Gray, Janice Galloway, J. K. Rowling, A. L. Kennedy, Ali Smith, Louise Welsh, Alexander McCall Smith, Iain Banks, Ian Rankin and many more (the list grows longer very year). This corpus of work represents some of the most exciting, commercially successful and ground-breaking writing of the past three decades in the Anglophone world. Coda: Scotland is not a literary backwater.
  15. ^ "Edinburgh Book Festival Footnotes: Celtic Writers for Breakfast". The Sunday Herald. 19 August 2001. Suhayl Saadi, who appears on tomorrow's Celtic Writers for Breakfast bill together with Aonghas MacNeacail and Luke Sutherland, is the author of The Burning Mirror, a debut collection of short stories. Chris Dolan rightly describes it as "an impossible blend of Kelman, Toni Davidson and Rushdie. There is rhythm and blending of languages that is uniquely Scots-Asian." Saadi is a medical man whose story "Ninety-nine Kiss-o-grams" was shortlisted for the Macallan short story competition. Uniquely he provides a glossary of Pakistani and Glaswegian words for those who might find navigation difficult.
  16. ^ Jill Adams. "Review of The Burning Mirror". The Barcelona Review Issue 28: January–February 2002. In "Ninety-nine Kiss-o-grams," the opening story, Sal is left a deed from his grandfather to a bit of land in Pakistan. He travels there to sell the worthless dirt plot and his running commentary in heavy Scottish dialect on his family's native land proves an extraordinary (and epiphanous) reading experience: "Nuthin wis certain here, Nuthin. Mibbee you were alive, mibbee you were dead. Mibbee there was a God, mibbee there were ten thousand. Everyone had a different version of everything, and nothin wis written doon." Trying to picture this man – looking as Pakistani as the natives around him, but speaking in such a strange tongue – is a disturbing, incongruous experience that jars the reader into a recognition of the cultural crossroad at which the narrator finds himself. External link in |work= (help)
  17. ^ Dunedin Consort
  18. ^ Yüksel Söylemez (11 December 2005). "(Article about Project Paradisum)". Turkish Daily News. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007.
  19. ^ Scottish Opera. "Five:15 – Operas Made in Scotland". Archived from the original on 2012-12-24. Queens of Govan: Nigel Osborne, Wajahat Khan and Suhayl Saadi's work for Five:15 features a young Asian girl who is running through the streets of Govan on a rainy Saturday night, late for her job at a kebab shop. As she runs, she is pursued by images and realities from her parallel lives such as the green valleys of Kashmir and the dark waters of the Clyde.
  20. ^ Michael Tumelty (13 February 2008). "Five first nights in an hour and a quarter". The Herald. The creative teams include some big names in their own fields ... writers, authors and poets Ian Rankin, Bernard MacLaverty, Alexander McCall Smith, Ron Butlin and Suhayl Saadi, paired respectively with composers Craig Armstrong, Gareth Williams, Stephen Deazley, Lyell Cresswell and Nigel Osborne.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ Tim Cornwell (29 February 2008). "Curtain up on 15-minute operas as big names aim for the wow factor". The Scotsman.
  22. ^ Richard Morrison (3 March 2008). "Five:15 at Oran Mor, Glasgow". The Times.
  23. ^ Pakistani Film, Media, and Arts Festival Archived 2 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ British Council. "UK Writer-in-Residence George Washington University October 1–29, 2008". Archived from the original on 24 October 2008. (GWU Press release)
  25. ^ Mary Robb (March 2008). "Scottish Opera – Five:15". classical music and opera reviews by musicians and musicologists.
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 July 2013. Retrieved 2014-05-21.
  27. ^ "Magic Afoot: the first print issue of Textualities magazine". Textualities, April 2006. Archived from the original on 21 July 2007.
  28. ^ Pat Donnelly (9 May 2008). "Blue Met Flashback 2007: Dr. Saadi in Glasgow offers free novella". The Gazette. Archived from the original on 15 May 2008.
  29. ^ Association for Scottish Literary Studies. "The Bottle Imp".

External links[edit]

Note on web searches: Saadi will occasionally be found misspelled as Saadhi.

Reviews and interviews relating to the novel, Joseph's Box can be located at the following sites: