Youssef Rakha's Emissaries out this March!

Barakunan's first release from the inaugural roster of Open Call authors brings you Emissaries, and other short stories. 

Emissary: a person sent as a diplomatic representative on a special mission.

What might William Burroughs be doing in Tahrir Square at the height of the Egyptian revolution of 2011? Was there really a radical atheist insurgency in New Cairo? Where in extant science fiction do people go when they die? In these Cairo-focused stories written at the height of the Arab Spring, in its wake and its ruins, the reader is led by a colorful cast of characters through a hypnagogic urbanscape pulsating with the spectres of post-political Islam and failed revolution. Whether it is an alien abduction in “Lexi” or a Cairo-centered, futuristic retelling of an Old Testament narrative in the titular story “Emissaries” - the stories here play with notions of contemporary Egyptianness to evoke a human circus of possibility and despair that is undeniably universal at its core.

Emissaries, and other short stories is the first short story collection of Youssef Rakha's work. The short stories within this collection appeared first in the following journals:

The Boy Jihadi (Guernica)
Thus Spoke Che Nawwarah (Kenyon Review Online)
Emissaries (The Puritan)
Nawwah (Miranda Literary Magazine – defunct)
Qaf (Mashallah News)
The Secret History of Atheism (Minor Literatures)
A Father’s Counsel (BULL)
The End Night (Litro) 
Lexi (Michigan Quarterly Review)

“The Trees Are Houses” is published for the first time, written especially for this publication.  

Check out samples from the audiobook, recorded with a dynamic cast of voice actors. Click on this link!

 About the Author 

Youssef Rakha is an Egyptian writer and poet. His first two novels, The Book of the Sultan’s Seal and The Crocodiles, appeared in English in early 2015 through Interlink and Seven Stories Press, respectively. Also a cultural journalist, literary translator, and creative writing coach, he is the founding editor of He can be found online at and on Twitter @Sultans_Seal. Barra and Zaman, an essay in 200 numbered paragraphs on the Egyptian filmmaker Shadi Abdel Salam's 1969 classic The Mummy, is published by Palgrave Macmillan. Rakha's first English novel, The Dissenters, is set for publication by Graywolf Press in 2025.


Cover Design by Ghiya Haidar