Emily Reute | Sayyide Salme bint Said
Published by hyperhouse (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)
Printed by HOUSE FZE (United Arab Emirates)
16 x 11.5 cm, 324 pages, color, softcover
Our inaugural edition, Bibi Salme, is a scanned reprint of the first English version of ‘Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar’, published by D. Appleton, New York in 1888. Released with no author and circulating mostly as ‘harem literature’, the Memoirs are in reality an autobiography penned by Emily Reute | Sayyide Salme bint Said, who was born Princess Sayyide Salme bint Said, one of the thirty six children of Sayyid bin Sultan (1791-1856), ruler of Muscat and Oman and of Zanzibar. Her recollections offer a complex historic narrative on family, governance, and labor relationships of settler Omanis in Zanzibar and the east coast of Africa.
The treatment of the memoirs by 19th and early 20th century publishers presented her life as more of an Oriental fantasy than a factual, autobiographical account. Since its first printing, Bibi Salme’s work has been published as an academic-style text, numerous print-on-demands, a romance novel and a Victorian Erotica Kindle book. In rare cases, such as the romance novel, the text has been altered, but in most cases the transformation has been an act of repackaging and advertising. In this new edition, we do not only attempt to reconstruct the circulation of her memoirs but also present them as a rebuke to the Orientalist worldview that she had always intended it to be and move closer to what wants to be seen.