Adam Zameenzad

ADAM ZAMEENZAD was born in Pakistan and spent his early childhood in Nairobi. His novels have been published to great acclaim in many languages. THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE won the David Higham Prize, and both THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE and CYRUS, CYRUS were longlisted for the Booker Prize. Sadly Adam passed away in 2017.


‘One of the most original writers in the language.’ Publishing News


My Friend Matt and Hena the Whore -cover

'It would be hard to overpraise the achievement... a truly remarkable novel. To write it must have taken not just Zameenzad’s great gifts as a writer, but also something else, some extra dose of humanity.' Punch


Kimo, Golam, Matt and Hena live in an African village that is dying. So they embark on a search for an older cousin who has supposedly made it big in the city, but they find on their journey a country paralysed by famine and civil war. Although they are soon little more than skeletons, the children are full of resources with which to meet this world. One is laughter; another is Hena’s practical intelligence. Their willingness to help those less able to cope is a powerful affirmation of man’s fundamental humanity towards his fellow man.


An unforgettable story of four courageous children on a journey in war-torn Africa, even more powerful and relevant today than when it was first published.


'Outstanding... into this odyssey of nightmares and magic the author manages to weave a thread of humour which is the most remarkable achievement of his horrifying book.' Sunday Times

'Beautifully written, imbued with enormous integrity and insight, his book is a plea for us to exercise humanity towards our fellow humans; it is in the characters’ expressions of love and care that we are offered a glimmer of hope, both for the present and the future.' Time Out


'Through Zameenzad's craft, these fables are first of all stories, riveting and moving; they are, furthermore, exemplary - leaving the reader enthralled. In any case, the art of the fable, in Adam Zameenzad's hands, has become one again alert and invigorating, restored to its original place of authority.' Alberto Manguel, Washington Post


'Truly astonishing.' i-D


‘This moving, often harrowing novel about the coming-of-age of four spirited children in a starving African village is narrated by Kimo, a nine-year-old boy who recounts brutal scenes of civil strife in one breath, while playfully describing the personalities of his bosom pals in another from "smart-ass" Matt to innocent Golam with his "lovely smile" and Hena, with her "twisted mind." When life in their village is disrupted by civil war and famine, the children travel to the big city to get help from Kimo's supposedly successful cousin. But the cousin is hiding from the police and nowhere to be found. The stirring part of the book is the way they cleverly extract themselves from dangerous situations as they wend their way through the violence and disorder of the city. Even though the fighting causes them terror and pain, Kimo refuses to stop believing in the goodness of people, saying that "the hurt of those who stop loving you is worse than the hurt of those who leave you" and "the hurt of those who never love you is the worst of all." Zameenzad, an award-winning novelist living in England, adds a new dimension to the footage of hungry children we see on television newscasts and makes them come alive in an unforgettable way.’ Publishers Weekly


Ziji Publishing UK


Giunti Italy



Previously published (rights reverted):

Fourth Estate/Flamingo UK;

Viking & Random House USA;

Klett Cotta/Unions Verlag Taschenbuch Germany;

Van Gennep NL;

Christian Bourgois France;

Marcos y Marcos Italy;

Ediciones Versal Spain;

Teorema Portugal;

Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke Denmark;

Ordfront Sweden;

Pax Norway;

Treville Japan;

Am Oved Israel


Material: finished copies (298pp)

Pepsi And Maria

Pepsi is a smart street kid in an unnamed South American country – an orphan of circumstance, whose mother is dead and whose father, a famous politician, has disowned him. At his side is Maria, a girl kidnapped from her real family who has found in Pepsi a true ‘brother’. In this hard-hitting yet fantastic tale, Pepsi’s mission is to escape the sadistic Caddy, a policeman in cahoots with his father, whose one aim is to exterminate him, and to return Maria to her home – the rubbish-tip township she calls ‘Heaven’.


Adam Zameenzad portrays the lives of social outcasts, loners, losers, the deprived and the dispossessed. He aims to give voice to the voiceless, and make visible the invisible. In this remarkable novel, the children’s zest for life and the beauty of the world around them ensure that their dramatic and poetic story, while dealing with the appalling reality of street children’s lives, is uplifting to the spirit.

PEPSI AND MARIA features Zameenzad’s unsentimental, trademark humour and distinctly fictional milieu, drawing attention to the plight of street children, trying to give voice to the voiceless. Without question an important novel – an incredibly moving story, and effortlessly entertaining too. From the highly acclaimed author of MY FRIEND MATT & HENA THE WHORE, CYRUS CYRUS, LOVE BONES & WATER and THE THIRTEENTH HOUSE.


‘Imagine a hybrid of City of God and The Wizard of Oz… a crossover triumph.’ Independent

‘A beautifully crafted, multi-faceted book; at once a highly dramatic and gripping thriller… [and] a searing indictment of cruelty and inhumanity.’ New Internationalist


Arcadia Books UK (WEL)


Christian Bourgois France


Yedioth Aharonoth Israel


Teorema Portugal


Ediciones Ambar Spain


Material: finished copies (317pp).

Gorgeous White Female

(Fourth Estate hb 1995, Fourth Estate pb 1996)


Eleven-year-old Lahya despises his Bengali father and yearns to be like his English middle-class mother, whom he worships. Taken to New York for the funeral of his murdered grandfather who ran a chain of sex shops in the city, he finds the solution to his obsession in Kali, the black goddess. He makes a Faustian pact with her that demands the sacrifice of a young, good looking white male in order for him to be transformed into the gorgeous white female of his dreams. So Lahya ventures forth into the streets of New York in search of his prey…


In this provocative, darkly humorous and wickedly observant novel, Zameenzad conjures up the sexual and emotional maelstrom of a young boy on the verge of adulthood.


'An artfully constructed novel, playfully imaginative and featuring sentences that have the rhythm and rumble of Manhattan street sounds.' Time Out


'Lahya is an endearing creation, witty and believable.' Times Literary Supplement


'A sharp-eyed depiction of male transsexuality.' Vogue


'Witty, wise and consistently entertaining.' Gay Times


'A Fellini-esque parade of character.' Sunday Times

Fourth Estate UK
Cyrus, Cyrus

(Fourth Estate hb 1990, Minerva pb 1991)


Born a Choodah, lowest of out-caste Indians, Cyrus is marked out at an early age by his sexual profligacy, supernatural intelligence and by the sign of the devil on his back. Following the violent deaths of members of his family, Cyrus escapes to the West and embarks on a series of fantastical adventures across America, involving religious sects, vagabonds and a lot of women. But it is in England where nemesis awaits Cyrus, and where he becomes the most notorious criminal of the century.

'A cautionary tale that has thrown caution to the wind. Powerful, energetic and sometimes profound, it succeeds on many levels and accomplishes many things.' Independent


'Brilliant – truly funny and gloriously inventive.' Sunday Times


'The most exciting post-Rushdie fiction of the year.' Valentine Cunningham


'…outdistances 95 per cent of the thin gruel that passes for serious literary fiction these days.' Blitz

Fourth Estate UK
Love, Bones And Water

(Fourth Estate hb 1989, Flamingo pb 1990):


In Gulroza, Valley of the Flowers, lies a shanty town whose people are soon to be brutally evicted in the name of progress and political convenience.


Their plight seems irrevocable. Desperately poor, yet defiant and filled with a love of life, they are to be swept aside like leaves in the gathering storm.


Then, one day, a grey messiah appears in their midst, unlooked-for, savagely mutilated, and with eyes that shine like diamonds…


'A writer of great originality who brings together tough satire and an unforced lyricism with remarkable effect.' The Guardian


'Quite unlike anything else recently published. Love, Bones and Water is a wry political fantasy and a moving evocation of childhood innocence, remarkable for its clarity.' Patrick Gale, Daily Telegraph


'Zameenzad again shows his ability to exercise his imagination (including its comic elements) at the heart of situations of injustice, presenting them not at the superficial level of issues, but as lived experience.' Independent


'A great novel.' Time Out

Fourth Estate UK
The Thirteenth House

(Fourth Estate hb 1987, Flamingo pb 1988)


Adam Zameenzad’s spectacular debut novel won the David Higham Prize for Fiction.


'An unusually talented and vigorous first work.' Doris Lessing


'Here is fine narrative wryness of the R. K. Narayan sort.' Observer


'A forceful, moving and confident debut.' Times Literary Supplement


'If comedy was ever black, this is.' Guardian


Fourth Estate UK