S. F. Said is a British author. He was born in Beirut in 1967 and spent his first years in Jordan. He grew up in the Iraqi diasporic community in London, moving there with his mother at the age of two. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, he worked as a press attachÃ© and speech writer for the Crown Prince of Jordanâ€™s office in London. He began a Ph.D. in 1997 looking at the lives of young Muslims in Britain, but left academia to focus on film journalism for the Daily Telegraph â€“ where he brought attention to much 'world cinema', including contemporary Islamic cinema â€“ and writing for children.
His first novel, Varjak Paw, tells the story of a Mesopotamian Blue cat called Varjak who leaves his sheltered upbringing to explore the city and learn the 'Seven Skills of the Way', taught to him in dreams by his ancestor Jalal. In his dreams, Varjak finds himself transported from his gritty urban surroundings to the deserts, rivers and mountains of Mesopotamia. With the Skills, he is able to fight the Gentleman and, in The Outlaw Varjak Paw, the domineering â€˜white cat with one eye,â€™ Sally Bones, who is invading other catsâ€™ territory and ruling over it with torture and terror. Varjak Paw won the Gold Medal in the 2003 NestlÃ© Smarties Book Prize, and The Outlaw Varjak Paw won the 2007 Blue Peter Book of the Year Award. Varjak was staged as a play by Playbox Theatre, and was performed as an opera by The Opera Group in 2008.