In January I went to Cairo as part of a British Council mission of nine publishers, trying to find books in Arabic to translate into English. At the time, I had a cold which four hours delay and a 3.30am arrival in Cairo did not help, so I had absolutely no voice during the five days of the trip. Perhaps a blessing for those involved. But I can recount a few of the short conversations I had with publishers.
'So, your company is called Marion Boyars'
"Yes, it was my mother's company."
'And you work with your colleagues.'
"Yes, we are all women right now. We like working together - we make a good team."
'And your father?'
Since I returned to London, I have been trying to get Arabic novels submitted. I've sent around twenty e mails. I have not had any replies.
My voice has now returned and a bit of me wants to climb a very high tower and scream loudly 'I'm a woman and I want to publish novels from Arabic! I don't mind if they are by a man or a woman but I'm not about to have a sex change myself!'
Maybe it was just as well I had lost my voice in Cairo.