SOURCE: STEP FEED
BY: LYNE KAWADRI
Arabs are storytellers by nature. From our grandmother’s old tales to the “hakawatis” in cafes, we have a lot to tell.
We’ve always been fans of Arab books as it depicts our culture and heritage through different voices and generations. Here are 8 Arab books that are surely worth a read:
1. Lebanese Blonde (2012)
Written by Lebanese author Joseph Geha, Lebanese Blonde is set in Ohio, in the mid 70’s, during the country’s sectarian civil war, in the community of “Little Syria”. Winner of the 2013 Arab American Book Award, the novel tells the story of two cousins that immigrated to the U.S.
The duo decides to import a powerful type of hash named “Lebanese Blonde” to the U.S., using their business to hide their tracks.
2. Girls of Riyadh (2005)
First published in Lebanon, Girls of Riyadh sheds light and opens up the hidden world of Saudi women as well as their culture, traditions, and the conflicts that arise from it.
In the daring novel, Saudi writer Rajaa al Sanea describes the private lives of four upper-class Saudi women as they look for love and explore their limited freedom in a conservative society.
3. The lady of Tel Aviv (2009)
The novel tells the tale of Walid, an immigrant returning to Gaza after 40 years of absence. As he boards the plane from London, his fate coincides with Dana, an Israeli actress going back to Tel Aviv. The two discuss their experience as they exchange the meaning of home, love, and belonging.
4. A land without Jasmine (2012)
Winner of the 2013 Said Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, A land without Jasmine takes place in Sana’a, Yemen, where the striking disappearance of a young female student named Jasmine shakes the university.
Yemeni Wajdi Al Ahdal‘s story is narrated by a different character each chapter, starting with Jasmine herself, and is a daring mystery filled with sexuality and suspense.
5. The American Granddaughter (2008)
The novel tells the story of Zeina, an Iraqi-American woman who comes back to Iraq as an interpreter for the U.S. Army. With the conflict and tension, Zeina ends up questioning her own identity while portraying the ground of the trauma of war.
6. The Hakawati (2009)
Hakawati literally means storyteller in Arabic and this novel discloses the story of Osama Al Kharrat, who comes back from the U.S. to Beirut to stand by his dying father.
Set in 2003, along with the age-old tales of the Middle East and Arab tribes, Lebanese author Rabih Alameddine showcases the current situation of the Lebanese society at a time of war and pessimism
7. Mornings in Jenin (2006)
Inspired by Ghassan Kanafani‘s Returning to Haifa, this book is written by Susan Abulhawa, a Palestinian-American human rights activist and writer. Through the voice of Amal, Mornings in Jenin exposes what it is like to be a family displaced from your own home and forced to live in the Jenin refugee camp.
Through the different generations of the Abulhejo family, we witness what every Palestinian experienced and still does today, such as losing a sense of identity and security.
8. The girl in the tangerine scarf (2006)
The novel is about a Syrian immigrant, Khadra Shamy, who is raised in a conservative Muslim family in the 1970’s in Indiana, U.S., and questions her spirituality and her Muslim-American identity.