Summer Reading

This week, I'm excited to share two new book releases.

Samak the Ayyar is a wonderful, thousand-year-old Persian adventure saga that I've had the honor to adapt in its first English-language translation. It's the source material my Prince of Persia games (and movie) always wanted but never had. You can read about the project's origins (and download a free sample chapter) here.

You can order Samak on Amazon, or direct from Columbia University Press, via the store. If you order from the publisher, enter the code CUP20 for a 20% discount.

My other July book release is the third in a trilogy: Year 3 in France, 166 pages of my sketchbook journal from 2018-19, the third year after I moved to France from L.A. for a video game project. Like the first two volumes, it’s a small, high-quality print run from local publisher Tomoe.

I've signed a stack of books, so the first 30 people to order Year 3 from the online store will receive signed copies.

Year 2 has sold out its print run, but you can get signed copies of all three books at Chicago Gamespace, where my sketch art is on exhibit thru August 23. It's a unique space dedicated to video game culture and art, well worth a visit if you're in the Chicago area.

The Chicago show also includes a new print from Year 3: "Les Beatnik Modernes", in a signed and numbered limited edition of 10. It's a sketch I did in May 2019 at a café just up the street. I've missed sketching in cafés, and can't wait to rekindle the habit.

Rassouli in his studio, as we started our collaboration to translate and adapt Samak. (From my sketch journal Year 2 in France.)

A tale of ancient Persia

I’m excited to share a very special project. It's been my honor to adapt a wonderful, thousand-year-old Persian adventure saga in its first English-language edition -- Samak the Ayyar.

Despite having spent a certain number of the past 30 years delving into Persian culture and lore for video game and film development-related purposes, I'd never heard of Samak (or ayyars) until the day my translator and collaborator Freydoon Rassouli took down a dusty out-of-print volume from his shelf and said: "This is what you've been looking for."

As he began reading to me from its pages, translating on the fly from archaic Persian, shivers ran down my spine. Here was a fantastic adventure set in ninth-century Persia, featuring a treacherous vizier, a star-crossed romance between a noble prince and princess, kings, warriors, and an agile trickster hero who scales walls and sneaks into palaces. It was the source material my Prince of Persia games (and movie) had always wanted but never had. But since I don't read Persian (and even most Persians don't read 900-year-old manuscripts), I couldn't read it.

I really, really needed to read that book. So... we wrote it. Samak the Ayyar will be released in paperback this August from Columbia University Press.

What are ayyars? A concept as specific to Persia as ronin and samurai are to Japan, and as universal. Samak is a hero and bandit, a man of the people with the skills of a ninja and the ideals of a knight. You could call him a Persian Robin Hood, but he and his band of male and female ayyars have a unique and compelling spirit all their own. Armed with a dagger, a lasso, and his wits, he accomplishes things even kings can’t.

If you appreciate the 1001 Nights, or classic tales of world folklore, I hope you’ll be as enchanted by Samak’s adventures as I am. You can read more about the book (and pre-order it, once it becomes available in your territory) here.