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Footnote Press to publish ‘bonkers’ and ‘bold’ debut novel by Palestinian writer, Yasmin Zaher

Footnote Press, part of Bonnier Books UK, will publish The Coin, the debut novel from Palestinian journalist and author, Yasmin Zaher.

Fritha Saunders, editorial director, acquired UK & Commonwealth rights from Claire Roberts at Claire Roberts Global Literary Management on behalf of Monika Woods at Triangle Literary.

Described by Elif Bautman as ‘bonkers’, Raven Leilani as ‘filthy and elegant’, and Slavoj Zizek as a ‘masterpiece’, The Coin is a bold and unabashed novel about a young Palestinian woman’s unraveling as she teaches at a New York City middle school, gets caught up in a scheme reselling Birkin bags, and strives to gain control over her body and mind.            

The Coin‘s narrator is a wealthy Palestinian woman with impeccable style and meticulous hygiene. And yet the ideal self, the ideal life, remains just out of reach: her inheritance is inaccessible, her homeland exists only in her memory and her attempt to thrive in America seems doomed from the start. In New York, she strives to put down roots. She teaches at a school for underprivileged boys, where her eccentric methods cross boundaries. She befriends a homeless swindler, and the two participate in a pyramid scheme reselling Birkin bags.

But America is stifling her – her wilfulness, her sexuality, her principles. In an attempt to regain control, she becomes preoccupied with purity, cleanliness and self-image, all while drawing her students into her obsessions. In an unforgettable denouement, her childhood memories converge with her material and existential statelessness and the narrator unravels spectacularly.

Yasmin Zaher said: ‘Thank you to Footnote Press for publishing this novel during the dark night of the Palestinian soul. I wrote The Coin in a hot flash in 2018 and I poured my heart and mind into it, commenting on everything from the Nakba to luxury handbags. I was told that it’s actually a fun read, and I hope that readers will find it bright and affirmative.’

Fritha Saunders said: ‘From the moment it landed in my inbox, I knew The Coin was a very special novel and perfect for Footnote. Yasmin writes powerfully about class and statelessness, loneliness and friendship, beauty and grief. She writes with tact and a brilliant humour that will bowl you over. I’m so excited to introduce her to British readers.’

Yasmin Zaher is a Palestinian writer and journalist. She got her B.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering at Yale University and an MFA in Creative Writing at The New School, where she was advised by Katie Kitamura. She lives in Paris.

The Coin will be published in hardback in July 2024.