Advertisement Close

Exploring Gaza Through 5 Compelling Books

posted on: Feb 21, 2024

Gaza. Photo: Wikimedia

By: Ziyan Qutub / Arab America Contributing Writer 

Gaza, a land marked by conflict and crisis, has been transformed into a sign of endurance and strength in adversity. The stories from this area, enclosed between the Mediterranean Sea and Palestine, often do not penetrate the broader narrative. But through the pages of literature, writers try to amplify Gaza’s voice and allow readers to glimpse its population’s lives, challenges, and dreams. In this journey, five thought-provoking books navigate the intricacies of Gaza for a personal and compassionate understanding of the territory.

1. “I Shall Not Hate” by Izzeldin Abuelais

“I Shall Not Hate” is the story of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor who went through an unspeakable catastrophe during the Gaza War in 2008-2009. This memoir tells the story of Dr. Abuelaish’s journey from his birth in a refugee camp to his accomplishment as a doctor and also reveals the appalling deaths of his three daughters by an Israeli tank shell. It’s almost impossible to imagine anything worse that could have happened to him, yet the book ends with a message of peace and reconciliation. It’s about the understanding that must take place between Palestinians, and ultimately, it must become about the experience between all people. It’s written in a way that defies all the clichés and preconceptions about the conflict’s people and geography.

2. “Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine” edited by Refaat Alareer

Here is an anthology serving as a literary testament to the young Palestinian writers in Gaza. Amid bombardment, siege, and a war that signaled a rising death toll in Palestine, the idea that literature could stand as an unlikely but beautifully defiant metaphor came alive. Gaza Writes Back is a collection of short stories illuminating the daily lives of people in Gaza in ways readers will never forget. Crafted by eighteen young writers emerging from the devastating experiences of recent years, Gaza Writes Back is a testament to resilience and creativity. The writers are between the ages of fifteen and twenty-two. Their generation has endured Israeli occupation, invasions, bombardments, and sieges. Their stories reveal their humanity, invite readers to see beyond the numbers and statistics and offer an understanding of how young people in Gaza live their lives, dreams, and nightmares. The anthology challenges readers to reconsider their simplistic, often dehumanizing views and attitudes toward Palestinians. The stories are about critical moments of transformation, resistance, and resilience. They are, for the most part, about the human experience in its purest form.

3. “The Drone Eats with Me: Diaries from a City Under Fire” by Atef Abu Saif

During the Gaza War of 2014, Palestinian writer Atef Abu Saif kept a diary of his daily life in the war zone. The Drone Eats with Me is an unfiltered, intimate account of the life and death struggles of people trying to live their lives in one of the world’s most beautiful regions. Day-long assaults wrecked the infrastructure, the economy, and the cultural coherence of a society that was already weak from being locked up illegally for decades in a concentration camp called Gaza. The Palestinian experience has largely been transmitted to the world, from Deir Yassin to the Jenin “massacre” to the invasion of Lebanon to the killing in Gaza, through Israeli eyes. Accordingly, children playing on a Gaza beach are fodder for the “terrorist” guns of a terrified army. The people in Gaza are in a cage – a lot of their own making to be sure – and the book depicts the strength and desperation of Abu Saif’s society with extraordinary clarity. “No one in Gaza wants war,” the narrator reminds us again and again, but he also knows that no one in Gaza knows anything but war. Everything about Palestine is a disgrace, and the dramatic precision of The Drone Eats with Me will bring you close to the horror.

4. “Palestine” by Joe Sacco

The book “Palestine” by Joe Sacco is an unusual comic book approach that makes it very controversial. It combines journalism through the medium of comics with powerful visuals, painstaking journalism, and meticulous word craft to create an unparalleled experience of both reading, viewing, and empathizing with the plight of the Palestinians within the occupied territories, including the Gaza Strip, as well as providing a thought-provoking and readily accessible means of grasping the complexities of the Palestinian struggle for national self-determination.

5. “Mornings in Jenin” by Susan Abulhawa

Though “Mornings in Jenin” by Susan Abulhawa isn’t solely about Gaza, it is a panoramic narrative that discusses the trials of dislocation, suffering, and determination of a Palestinian family from 1948’s Nakba to the immediate present. As large parts are based in Gaza, the book is a profoundly heartfelt meditation on how political events affect persons and societies and adds to the general portrayal of the Palestinian narrative.


These five poignant books will transport the reader deep into Gaza, a place frequently lost in the convolutions of global politics. Combining a wide range of genres, from memoirs, anthologies, and graphic novels, these works tell the complex and human tales of Gaza. By elevating the voices of people from this land, these books become catalysts for empathy and insight, crucial for peace and justice in Palestine.

Check out our Blog here!