Lists and Suggestions
List: Celebrating Arab American Voices
Against the Loveless World
Abulhawa, Susan, author.
"From the internationally bestselling author of the "terrifically affecting" (The Ph... More
"From the internationally bestselling author of the "terrifically affecting" (The Philadelphia Inquirer) Mornings in Jenin, a sweeping and lyrical novel that follows a young Palestinian refugee as she slowly becomes radicalized while searching for a better life for her family throughout the Middle East"-- Less
A Woman Is No Man
Rum, Etaf, author.
Three generations of Palestinian-American women in contemporary Brooklyn are torn by individual des... More
Three generations of Palestinian-American women in contemporary Brooklyn are torn by individual desire, educational ambitions, a devastating tragedy, and the strict mores of traditional Arab culture. Less
The Beauty of Your Face
Mustafah, Sahar, author.
"A Palestinian American woman wrestles with faith, loss, and identity before coming face-to-fa... More
"A Palestinian American woman wrestles with faith, loss, and identity before coming face-to-face with a school shooter in this searing debut. A uniquely American story told in powerful, evocative prose, The Beauty of Your Face navigates a country growing ever more divided. Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter -- radicalized by the online alt-right -- attacks the school. As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother's dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart. Still, there is the sweetness of the music from her father's oud, and the hope and community Afaf finally finds in Islam. The Beauty of Your Face is a profound and poignant exploration of one woman's life in a nation at odds with its ideals." -- Less
You Exist Too Much
Arafat, Zaina, author.
"On a hot day in Bethlehem, a twelve-year-old Palestinian-American girl is yelled at by a grou... More
"On a hot day in Bethlehem, a twelve-year-old Palestinian-American girl is yelled at by a group of men outside the Church of the Nativity. She has exposed her legs in a biblical city, an act they deem forbidden, and their judgement will echo on through her adolescence. When our narrator finally admits to her mother that she is queer, her mother's response only intensifies a sense of shame: 'You exist too much,' she tells her daughter. Told in vignettes that flash between the U.S. and the Middle East--from New York to Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine--Zaina Arafat's debut novel traces her protagonist's progress from blushing teen to sought-after DJ and aspiring writer"-- Less
Alyan, Hala, 1986- author.
"From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between p... More
"From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between present and past, between displacement and home ... On the eve of her daughter Alia's wedding, Salma reads the girl's future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children; she also sees travel, and luck. While she chooses to keep her predictions to herself that day, they will all soon come to pass when the family is up rooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967. Salma is forced to leave her home in Nablus; Alia's brother gets pulled into a politically militarized world he can't escape; and Alia and her gentle-spirited husband move to Kuwait City, where they reluctantly build a life with their three children. When Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in1990, Alia and her family once again lose their home, their land, and their story as they know it, scattering to Beirut, Paris, Boston, and beyond. Soon Alia's children begin families of their own, once again navigating the burdens (and blessings) of assimilation in foreign cities. Lyrical and heartbreaking, Salt Houses is a remarkable debut novel that challenges and humanizes an age-old conflict we might think we understand--one that asks us to confront that most devastating of all truths: you can't go home again"-- Less
The Thirty Names of Night
Joukhadar, Zeyn, author.
"From the author of the acclaimed and award-winning debut The Map of Salt and Stars, a remarka... More
"From the author of the acclaimed and award-winning debut The Map of Salt and Stars, a remarkably moving and lyrical novel following three generations of Syrian Americans who are linked by the truths they carry close to their hearts. Five years after a suspicious fire killed his mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother's ghost has begun to visit him each evening. The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria. One night, he finds the tattered journal of a Syrian American artist named Laila Z. She famously and mysteriously disappeared more than sixty years before, but her journal contains proof that Laila Z's past is intimately tied to his mother's-and his grandmother's--in ways he never could have expected. Even more surprising, Laila Z's story reveals the histories of queer and transgender people within his community that he never knew. Following his mother's ghost, he uncovers the silences kept in the name of survival by his own community, his own family, and within himself, and discovers the family that was there all along. The Thirty Names of Night is an imaginative and intimate exploration of how we all search for and ultimately embrace who we are"-- Less
The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf
Kahf, Mohja, 1967-
Growing up devoutly Muslim in her 1970s Indiana community, Syrian immigrant Najla Shamy and her sib... More
Growing up devoutly Muslim in her 1970s Indiana community, Syrian immigrant Najla Shamy and her siblings struggle to balance the cultures of America and their family, a coming-of-age challenge that the adult Najla remembers years later when she reconnects with friends from other mixed heritages. Less
Bride of the Sea
Quotah, Eman, author.
"During a snowy Cleveland February, newlyweds Muneer and Saeedah are starting their lives in A... More
"During a snowy Cleveland February, newlyweds Muneer and Saeedah are starting their lives in America and expecting their first child. But Muneer harbors a secret: the word divorce has begun whispering itself in his ear. Soon, their marriage will end, and Muneer will return to Saudi Arabia, while Saeedah remains in Cleveland with their daughter, Hanadi. The more time she shares with her daughter, the more Saeedah wants to keep her close, and before long, her fear of losing Hanadi leads Saeedah to think that she and her daughter have no choice but to hide. Saeedah disappears with the little girl to build a new, secret life, while Muneer is left desperately searching for his daughter in a different country for years. The repercussions of this abduction ripple outward, not only changing the lives of Hanadi and her parents, but also their interwoven family and friends--those who must choose sides and hide their own deeply guarded secrets. And when Hanadi comes of age, she finds herself at the center of this conflict, torn between the world she grew up in and a family across the ocean. How can she exist between parents, between countries? This question lies at the heart of Eman Quotah's spellbinding debut about colliding cultures, immigration, religion, and family; an intimate portrait of loss and healing, and, ultimately, a testament to the ways we find ourselves inside love, distance, and heartbreak"-- Less
Mahmoud, Lena, author.
Isra Shadi, a twenty-one-year-old woman of mixed Palestinian and white descent, lives in California... More
Isra Shadi, a twenty-one-year-old woman of mixed Palestinian and white descent, lives in California with her paternal amu (uncle), amtu (aunt), and cousins after the death of her mother and abandonment by her father at a young age. Ever the outcast in her amu and amtu's household, they eagerly encourage Isra to marry and leave. After rejecting a string of undesirable suitors, she marries Yusef, an old love from her past. In Amreekiya, author Lena Mahmoud deftly juggles two storylines, alternating between Isra's youth and her current life as a married twentysomething who is torn between cultures and trying to define herself. The chapters chronicle various moments in Isra's narrative, including the volatile relationship of her parents and the trials and joys of forging a partnership with Yusef. Mahmoud also examines Isra's first visit to Palestine, the effects of sexism, how language affects identity, and what it means to have a love that overcomes unbearable pain. An exploration of womanhood from an underrepresented voice in American literature, Amreekiya is simultaneously unique and relatable. Featuring an authentic array of characters, Mahmoud's first novel is a much-needed story in a divided world. Less
The Map of Salt and Stars
Joukhadar, Zeyn, author.
"This 'beguiling' (Seattle Times) and stunning novel begins in the summer of 2011. N... More
"This 'beguiling' (Seattle Times) and stunning novel begins in the summer of 2011. Nour has just lost her father to cancer, and her mother moves Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria to be closer to their family. In order to keep her father's spirit alive as she adjusts to her new home, Nour tells herself their favorite story--the tale of Rawiya, a twelfth-century girl who disguised herself as a boy in order to apprentice herself to a famous mapmaker. But the Syria Nour's parents knew is changing, and it isn't long before the war reaches their quiet Homs neighborhood. When a shell destroys Nour's house and almost takes her life, she and her family are forced to choose: stay and risk more violence or flee across seven countries of the Middle East and North Africa in search of safet--along the very route Rawiya and her mapmaker took eight hundred years before in their quest to chart the world. As Nour's family decides to take the risk, their journey becomes more and more dangerous, until they face a choice that could mean the family will be separated forever."--Amaozn.com Less
An Unnecessary Woman
"Aaliya Sohbi lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless,... More
"Aaliya Sohbi lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, childless, and divorced, Aaliya is her family's 'unnecessary appendage.' Every year, she translates a new favorite book into Arabic, then stows it away. The thirty-seven books that Aaliya has translated over her lifetime have never been read-- by anyone. After overhearing her neighbors, 'the three witches,' discussing her too-white hair, Aaliya accidentally dyes her hair too blue. In this breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman's late-life crisis, readers follow Aaliya's digressive mind as it ricochets across visions of past and present Beirut. Colorful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese Civil War and Aaliya's own volatile past. As she tries to overcome her aging body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left"--From publisher's web site. Less
A Pure Heart
Hassib, Rajia, author.
"A powerful novel about two Egyptian sisters--their divergent fates and the secrets of one fam... More
"A powerful novel about two Egyptian sisters--their divergent fates and the secrets of one family Sisters Rose and Gameela Gubran could not have been more different. Rose, an Egyptologist, married an American journalist and immigrated to New York City, where she works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gameela, a devout Muslim since her teenage years, stayed in Cairo. During the aftermath of Egypt's revolution, Gameela is killed in a suicide bombing. When Rose returns to Egypt after the bombing, she sifts through the artifacts Gameela left behind, desperate to understand how her sister came to die, and who she truly was. Soon, Rose realizes that Gameela has left many questions unanswered. Why had she quit her job just a few months before her death and not told her family? Who was she romantically involved with? And how did the religious Gameela manage to keep so many secrets? Rich in depth and feeling, A Pure Heart is a brilliant portrait of two Muslim women in the twenty-first century, and the decisions they make in work and love that determine their destinies. As Rose is struggling to reconcile her identities as an Egyptian and as a new American, she investigates Gameela's devotion to her religion and her country. The more Rose uncovers about her sister's life, the more she must reconcile their two fates, their inextricable bond as sisters, and who should and should not be held responsible for Gameela's death. Rajia Hassib's A Pure Heart is a stirring and deeply textured novel that asks what it means to forgive, and considers how faith, family, and love can unite and divide us"-- Less
Anatomy of a Disappearance
Matar, Hisham, 1970-
Born into exile, eleven-year-old Nuri, the son of worldly parents who fled the revolution in their A... More
Born into exile, eleven-year-old Nuri, the son of worldly parents who fled the revolution in their Arab country, is transfixed along with his widowed father by an Arab-English woman who joins their family, a situation that is complicated by Nuri's father's disappearance. Less
Sent to live with her strict Lebanese father in Texas upon the outbreak of the Gulf War, Arab-Ameri... More
Sent to live with her strict Lebanese father in Texas upon the outbreak of the Gulf War, Arab-American teen Jasira endures racial taunts from her new classmates and enters into a dangerously exploitative relationship with a bigoted Army reservist. Less
Blatty, William Peter.
As state security in 1970s Albania tortures a prisoner named Dimiter, known as the American "ag... More
As state security in 1970s Albania tortures a prisoner named Dimiter, known as the American "agent from hell," the staff at Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital becomes enmeshed in a series of unexplainable deaths, until events explode in a surprising climax. Less
Throne of the Crescent Moon
Three superheroes in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms bound together by a series of magical murders must ... More
Three superheroes in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms bound together by a series of magical murders must work together in a race against time to prevent a sorcerer's plot from destroying the world. Less
The Other Americans
Lalami, Laila, 1968- author.
"From the Pulitzer Prize finalist, author of The Moor's Account--a timely and powerful ne... More
"From the Pulitzer Prize finalist, author of The Moor's Account--a timely and powerful new novel about the suspicious death of a Moroccan immigrant that is at once a family saga, a murder mystery, and a love story, all of it informed by the treacherous fault lines of American culture. Nora Guerraoui, a jazz composer, returns home to a small town in the Mojave after hearing that her father, owner of a popular restaurant there, has been killed in a suspicious hit-and-run car accident. Told by multiple narrators--Nora herself, Jeremy (the Iraq war veteran with whom she develops an intimacy), widow Maryam, Efrain (an immigrant witness to the accident who refuses to get involved for fear of deportation), Coleman (the police investigator), and Driss (the dead man himself), The Other Americans deftly explores one family's secrets and hypocrisies even as it offers a portrait of Americans riven by race, class, and religion, living side by side, yet ignorant of the vicissitudes that each tribe, as it were, faces" -- Less
Lifted by the Great Nothing
Dimechkie, Karim, author.
"At the center of this offbeat, big-hearted, and often dark world are a [Lebanese-American] so... More
"At the center of this offbeat, big-hearted, and often dark world are a [Lebanese-American] son and his father trying to live normal lives by desperately keeping buried anything that identifies them as 'other.' With its poignant relationships, surprising love stories, and unsettling misadventures, [this book] is a ... portrait of a young man coming to terms with his country's--and his own--violent past."--Provided by publisher. Less
The Naqib's Daughter
A passionate tale, woven from personal stories of heroic betrayal and love, The Naqib's Daught... More
A passionate tale, woven from personal stories of heroic betrayal and love, The Naqib's Daughter is based on historical characters, and set during Napoleon's campaign in Egypt. Less
The Yacoubian Building
Aswānī, ʻAlāʾ, 1957-
The Yacoubian Building holds all that Egypt was and has become over the 75 years since its namesake ... More
The Yacoubian Building holds all that Egypt was and has become over the 75 years since its namesake was built on one of downtown Cairo's main boulevards. From the pious son of the building's doorkeeper and the raucous, impoverished squatters on its roof, via the tattered aristocrat and the gay intellectual in its apartments, to the ruthless businessman whose stores occupy its ground floor, each sharply etched character embodies a facet of modern Egypt -- where political corruption, ill-gotten wealth, and religious hypocrisy are natural allies, where the arrogance and defensiveness of the powerful find expression in the exploitation of the weak, where youthful idealism can turn quickly to extremism, and where an older, less violent vision of society may yet prevail. Less
Ahmed, Saladin, author.
While investigating police brutality and corruption in 1970s Detroit, journalist Elena Abbott uncov... More
While investigating police brutality and corruption in 1970s Detroit, journalist Elena Abbott uncovers supernatural forces being controlled by a secret society of the city's elite. In the uncertain social and political climate of 1972 Detroit, hard-nosed, chain-smoking tabloid reporter Elena Abbott investigates a series of grisly crimes that the police have ignored. Crimes she knows to be the work of dark occult forces. Forces that took her husband from her. Forces she has sworn to destroy. Hugo Award-nominated novelist Saladin Ahmed and artist Sami Kivelä present one woman's search for the truth that destroyed her family amidst an exploration of the systemic societal constructs that haunt our country to this day. Less