Category Archives: Translation

Cancelled Confessions (Aveux non Avenus) now available in digital format

Recently, I have received several enquiries about my translation of Claude Cahun’s surrealist masterpiece which the Tate stopped printing in 2012.

Because I believe this to be a seminal, iconic text by a female, + Queer surrealist, which absolutely should be available to English-speaking readers, I have made a digital version available via Thin Man Press on several platforms, including i-books, Kindle, Barnes & Noble.

I am also going to use my translation in an art book project which will enable the reader to have a physical copy of the work. Details to follow.

I have used my preferred translation of the French title (Aveux non Avenus) – “Cancelled Confessions” as opposed to “Disavowals”.

Bin Laden Bodyguard ‘Can My Story Stop Others Joining Al-Qaeda?’

Nasser al-Bahri was Osama bin Laden’s personal bodyguard from 1997 to 2001. In his memoir, Guarding bin Laden: My Life in al-Qaeda, published today for the first time in English, he describes how he became radicalized, defied his father and ran away to the Bosnian ‘jihad’ in search of ‘martyrdom’. Soon, he moved to Afghanistan where he fulfilled his dream of joining al-Qaeda; Osama bin Laden was quick to single him out to train for his own security detail.

Al-Bahri’s first doubts arose when he was instructed to cold-bloodedly murder a colleague as ‘practise’ for killing an American soldier.

 London, UK, 22 June 2013                                       

Later, he met the men who would carry out the 9/11 attacks…playing a video game which simulated flying a plane into towers. As the organization geared up for 9/11, tensions mounted and al-Bahri began to look for a way out. Married, and with a baby on the way, he had started to lose faith in violent extremism and longed for a ‘normal’ life.

After a row with bin Laden, al-Bahri abruptly left, with his family, for his native Yemen. On the FBI’s ‘most wanted’ list, he was arrested on arrival and interrogated by the bureau’s Ali Soufan who described him as ‘a gold mine of information’. After four years in jail, under threat of extradition to Guantanamo, he convinced Yemeni President Saleh, in a private interview, of his repentance.

Still wanted in 70 countries, al-Bahri is now a taxi driver in Sana’a, the only verified senior al-Qaeda leader at liberty to tell his story. ‘I was persuaded to write this book because I realize I am a witness to history,’ he says, ‘And because I hope that it will stop other young men from making the same mistakes as me and trying to join alQaeda’

For Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, Bahri’s account of al-Qaeda is ‘more important than that of any high-ranking prisoner we transferred to Guantanamo’; he has given international intelligence services a clear picture of what they were dealing with in Afghanistan and what we may face again if – as many experts predict – al-Qaeda re-establishes itself in Syria and Iraq.

In vivid detail, Bahri describes every day life in al-Qaeda’s secret headquarters with its elaborate defences, strict hierarchy and organizational methods. He tells of battles and suicide bombings, spies in the camp and numerous assassination attempts on bin Laden.

On a more personal level, he discusses bin Laden’s personality and habits, his relationships with his four wives and his children, and his attitude to his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri – now al-Qaeda’s leader. Bahri also reveals how the Taliban and al-Qaeda became  inextricably linked and were helped by Pakistan’s Army and Intelligence.

Guarding bin Laden: My Life in al-Qaeda was written with celebrated Figaro journalist, Georges Malbrunot. It was originally published in French in 2010 as Dans l’Ombre de ben Laden.

This is the first English translation, by Susan de Muth and is published by Thin Man Press, London.

Guarding bin Laden: My Life in al-Qaeda is available in paperback from Amazon priced £9.99/$14.95/ €12.99 and on Kindle and all e-book formats.

  GBL cover large.jp1

Bin Laden’s bodyguard’s memoir


by Nasser al-Bahri

with Georges Malbrunot

Tarnak Farm cover RED


‘An extraordinary first-hand account of life at the heart of the terrorist organisation’ Le Figaro Magazine

Astonishing revelations…Bahri relates how he saw some of the 9/11 attackers playing Playstation in a house in Pakistan…’ El Pais

‘Bin Laden’s former bodyguard delivers a breath-taking account’ Tele et Vous

‘Bahri’s narrative is a goldmine of information’ Liberation

‘An intriguing glimpse of life inside the al-Qa’ida chief’s lair’ Sunday Times

Nasser al-Bahri spent four years in al-Qa’ida’s secret Afghan HQ, Tarnak Farm, from 1997 to 2001, when the organization was at the height of its powers.

Al-Bahri is the only verified senior al-Qa’ida member at liberty to talk about his experiences and the build-up to 9/11.

This is a dramatic, vivid and detailed account, with tales of spies, car chases, assassination attempts and elaborate security measures including fake walls, tunnels and underground chambers.

Al-Bahri describes the characters and relationships of the al-Qa’ida leaders, including today’s number one, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the late Osama bin Laden, his four wives and their many children.

He reveals the close alliance between al-Qa’ida and the Taliban, as well as the extraordinary involvement of the Pakistani Army and security services with both organisations.

Al-Bahri hopes that the story of his own radicalization and eventual break with al-Qa’ida will deter other young men from following the path of jihad.

You can buy this book on Kindle and other E-formats:


Smashwords (other e-formats):

Coming soon in paperback

Mayakovsky, Russian Poet by Elsa Triolet

This lively little memoir by Elsa Triolet is a vivid and affectionate portrait of her de facto brother-in-law. I found it in the British library (in French) when I was researching a film script about the great Russian poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and decided to translate it.

Triolet was herself in love with Mayakovsky when she was a teenager, but he fell for her older sister, Lili, who was married to Osip Brik.

The inconvenience of Lili’s marital status did not deter Mayakovsky; he became great friends with husband, Osip Brik, and the three of them lived together in a menage a trois until Mayakovsky’s untimely death at his own hand, aged just 36.

Irina Padva interpreted the original Russian poetry to me, enabling me to present versions, in English, of the extracts Triolet has translated into French. (Triolet was married to Louis Aragon and wrote several novels in her adopted tongue).

The late John Rety (Hearing Eye) agreed to publish my translation and his partner, Susan Johns, spent many days patiently going through the text with me. This was the first book I ever published and the process taught me much. And so I am very grateful to John and Sue and commend this book – which can be purchased on this site – to the reader.