Ever been annoyed at one too many !!!!! on a social media post? Ever wondered whether that extra ! is too forceful, and should make way for a modest full stop ? Then An Admirable Point is for you.
The book traces the roots of ! in the manuscript culture of the late Middle Ages following its vagaries across centuries, oceans, and text media right up to its current flights of fancy in the digital soup of electric impulses we call the internet. Along the way, An Admirable Point examines how our prim and pristine Miss Jane Austen actually started as a wild exclamation marker and other ! in literature, why a well-placed ! sells for millions of dollars in art auctions, what happens in our head when we see a !, how ! helps us surf the internet, and what the promises and pitfalls of ! can be when it dips its stroke-dotted toes into politics and public life.
An Admirable Point: A Brief History of the Exclamation Mark is an unapologetic manifesto for exclaiming — exclaiming in surprise, wonder, and admiration at the world and ourselves.
Published with Allen and Unwin in Australia (January 2023).
Published with Godine in the U.S. and Canada (March 2023).
Published in German with HarperCollins Germany in 2024.
‘Hazrat’s splendid exploration of ! is stimulating even in an excitement-weary moment’ review by Priscilla Jensen in The Wall Street Journal (6 April 2023). Click here.
‘so chock-full of interesting facts and ideas that it will leave most
readers saying, “Wow!”‘ review by Laurie Unger Skinner in Booklist (23 February 2023). Click here.
‘a short book, but it carries a punch, as does its subject’ review by Nicholas Lezard in The Spectator (7 January 2023). Click here.
A ‘brisk, enjoyable mischievous book…an invitation to shrug off the prescriptions of the language police and reawaken a sense of wonder” review by Henry Hitching in The Times Literary Supplement (23 December 2022). Click here.
‘Screamers and gaspers shriek: here be feelings!’ review by Rose Wild in The Times (4 November 2022). Click here.
‘Despite the best efforts of Gen Z smartphone addicts, the exclamation mark looks to be on its way out. What’s to be done?’ review by Maddy Fletcher in YOU magazine (29 January 2023). Click here.
There’s plenty more where An Admirable Point came from! I’ve worked on those inky squiggles for nearly a decade, so a sequel to ! may be in order. Currently talking with some publishers. Which other mark shall I write a book on?
As a Renaissance-specialist, I spend a large part of the day thinking about old books. Just now, I’m tinkering with fresh reconsiderations of Shakespeare’s works (38 plays & many many poems!) from a personal lense.
With my Iranian roots, the Middle East is always on my mind. As I’m getting older (in mezzo del cammin…), I’m drawn to what it means to belong: to a culture, place, a tribe, to oneself. I like the messy exciting side of life, how the Middle East is in Europe & the other way around.