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Zahra’s first attempt at writing a novel received the Runner Up Unpublished Award in the Comedy Women in Print Prize 2020.

Her prize was a scholarship to study an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire. She completed her Masters in 2021 with Distinction and is now doing a PhD in Creative Writing.

In 2023 she wrote her novel Daughters of the Nile which won the Unbound Firsts 2024 Writers of Colour Award and is due to be published by Unbound in June 2024.

Set in Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and England from 1940-2012, Daughters of the Nile charts three generations of Egyptian women. We begin in Cairo with the matriarch, Fatiha Bin-Khalid's growing friendship with Muslim feminist Doria Shafik as they fight for women’s rights before moving to Tehran where the sexually shamed Yasminah flees with her bisexual boyfriend, and then finally to London in 2012 as British-born Nadia battles alcoholism, toxic masculinity, identity crises and a severe case of herpes.

These women are no strangers to adversity: they've had to overcome revolutions, military coups, misogyny, and prejudice just to live their lives. And yet throughout history they seem to be repeating each other's mistakes, creating the perfect cycle of self-destruction.

It is Nadia, the youngest and most rebellious, who must relearn shame and shamelessness to radically change the future of the Bin-Khalid family.

Daughters of the Nile is an astute examination of the enduring strength of female bonds, and what we inherit when we move between lifelines and continents. Original and darkly funny, it's a must-read for fans of Sheena Patel's I'm a Fan, Tara M. Stringfellow's multi-faceted Memphis and Leïla Slimani's insightful non-fiction debut, Sex and Lies.

I am absolutely delighted to be publishing Zahra Barri’s debut novel, Daughters of the Nile under Unbound Firsts- Unbound’s new imprint discovering talented writers of colour. Barri’s skill to balance various locations and timelines, combined with her flair for dark humour and bold approach to storytelling places her as an exciting new voice in fiction.
Aliya Gulamani Commissioning Editor & Editorial Lead for Unbound Firsts