Baddawi (Charlottesburg, Virginia : Just World Books, 2015) Graphic novel
Ahmad grows up in a crowded yet vibrant community amidst mounting unrest and violence in his host country, experiencing joys such as holidays and adventures with his friends, and facing heavy burdens, from a schoolyard bully to separation from his family during the Lebanese civil war. Ahmad’s dogged pursuit of education and opportunity echoes the journey of the Palestinian people, as they make the best of their present circumstances while remaining steadfast in their determination to one day return to their homeland. A “clever use of tatreez designs running throughout the book,” with illustrations that “emphasise the surreal feelings of chaos and turmoil that surround young children in war zones.” – Ghazala Caratella, Aqsa News
Einas Abdullah [NYC]
Chapter from There are No Angels in Ramallah, translated by Robin Moger, Banipal 45 (2012).
Memories of an Un-Palestinian Story, in a Can of Tuna, Home , in: Penny Johnson & Raja Shedadeh, eds : Seeking Palestine – New Palestinian Writing on Exile and Home Northampton, Massachusetts : Olive Branch Press, 2013)
The Blue Between Sky and Water (Bloomsbury Circus, 2015) A family’s Nakba exile to Gaza.
Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury, 2010)
Steven Salaita, ed : Modern Arab American Fiction – A Reader’s Guide (Syracuse University Press, 2011)
Wadji Al-Ahdal (Yemini novelist, screenwriter – Literature degree from Sanaa University)
A Land without Jasmine (translated by William N. Hutchins, Garnet Publishing, 2012) An intriguing fiction from Yemen: A Land without Jasmine is a sexy, satirical detective story about the sudden disappearance of a young female student from Yemen’s Sanaa University. Each chapter is narrated by a different character beginning with Jasmine herself. The mystery surrounding her disappearance comes into clearer focus with each self-serving and idiosyncratic account provided by an acquaintance, family member, or detective. As the details surrounding her sudden disappearance emerge the mystery deepens. Sexual depravity, honour, obsession; the motives are numerous and the suspects plentiful. It seems that everyone wants a piece of the charming young student. Family, friends, fellow students and nosey neighbours are quick to make their own judgements on the case, but the truth may be far stranger than anyone anticipates. This short novel has echoes of both the Sherlock Holmes stories and The Catcher in the Rye, as in addition to the mystery and a murder, the novel contains candid discussions of coming of age in a land of sexual repression. Wajdi al-Ahdal is a satirical author with a fresh and provocative voice and an excellent eye for telling the details of his world.
Taha Muhammad Ali (see also POETRY)
A Rose to Hafeeza’s Eyes, and Other Stories (Peter Lang Books, 2008) – translated by Jamal Assadi. Publisher’s blurb : “Mohammad Ali Taha is a well-known Palestinian writer residing in Galilee as an Israeli citizen. Despite his fame in the Arab world, his works are still unfamiliar to Western audiences. In this volume, translator Jamal Assadi has collected a selection of Taha’s short stories, representing a variety of themes, styles, historical periods, contexts, settings, tones, languages, narrations, and characters, with the intent to help Taha enter what Edward Said calls “the large, many-windowed house of human culture as a whole”. In his introduction, Assadi discusses the culture, traits, and manners of Taha’s world, which provides the reader with a greater appreciation and understanding of the short stories in this volume.”
Fractured Destinies (Hoopoe Fiction, 2018) Ivana, a Palestinian-Armenian woman from Acre who eloped with a young British medical officer and fled Palestine in 1948, asks her daughter, Julie, to grant her last wish of returning her ashes to her home town.
Atef Alshaer, editor
The Nakba : Through Palestinian Writers’ Eyes (Saqi Books, 2018) Poetry and prose on the Nakba by Palestinian writers over the last seventy years : pre-Nakba, post-Nakba and post-Oslo Accords. Authors include Mahmoud Darwish, Samira Azzam, Fadwa Tuqan and Edward Said, as well as by emerging Palestinian writers.
Hala Alyan (Palestinian-American clinical psychologist)
Salt Houses (Hutchinson/Random House, 2017) See also : POETRY
The Lord (Hamish Hamilton, 1986)
Where the Jinn Consult (Hamish Hamilton, 1987) Linked novels set during the Mandate, with the first emphasising the failed 1936+ peasant revolt against colonialists, and the second exposing the squabbling Palestinian urban elite in the next decade.
Radwa Ashour (Egyptian)
The Woman from Tantoura : Palestinian Novel, translated by Kay Heikkinen(American University in Cairo Press, 2013)
Blue Lorries -translated by Barbara Romaine (Bloomsbury Qatar, 2013)
Spectres, – translated by Barbara Romaine (Arabia, 2010)
-as co-editor, Arab Women Writers : A Critical Reference Guide, 1873-1999 (American University in Cairo Press, 2008)
Granada – translated by William Granara (Syracuse University Press, 2003)
Gharib Asqalani, Huzama Habayeb, Akram Haniyya and Mahmoud Shukair, edited and translated by Jamal Assadi
Torn Body, One Soul : A Collection of Palestinian Short Fiction (Bloomington, Indiana : iUniverse, 2012)
Jamal Assadi (Sakhnin College) and Saif Abu Saleh (An-Najah University), both authors and translators
Short Fiction as a Mirror of Palestinian Life in Israel, 1944-1967 : Critique and Anthology (Peter Lang Publishing, 2017) Authors included : ‘Rashid’, Emile Habiby, Aref Al-‘Azzounie, Michael Awad, Mohammad Khass, Ali ‘Ashour, Tawfiq Mo’ammar, ‘Abu Esam’, Zaki Darwish, Susan Najeeb, Deeb Aabdie, Mohammad Naffa, George Gharib, Riyadh Husain Mahmoud, Salem Haddad and Tawfiq Zayyad.
Majed Atef [Ramallah & Jerusalem]
The Fates of the Others, short story translated by Issa J. Boullata, in Banipal 45 (2012)
Laila al-Atrash [Jordan]
Novels and short stories in Arabic : Sunrise from the West (1988), Illusive Anchors(2005), A Day Like any Other (short stories, 1991)
-as Leila al-Atrash :
A Woman of Five Seasons – translated by Nora Nweihid Halwani and Christopher Tingley (Northampton, Massachusetts : Interlink, 1990 / 2002). The poor, the dispossessed, the opportunist—all flock to the newly oil-rich state of Barqais in search of wealth. A Woman of Five Seasons vividly explores the relations that develop in such countries between local high officials and incoming heartland Arabs. Alongside this a second, highly relevant theme is developed: the poignant coming of age of the Arab woman as she seeks, in the face of traditionally exploitative Arab male attitudes, to win a degree of independence and fulfillment. Palestinian Leila al-Atrash is one of the leading novelists and short story writers of the Arab world. She began her career as a journalist and press reporter and, later, as a TV news anchor in Qatar. Her novels include The Sun Rises from the West (1988), An Ordinary Day (1991), Two Nights and the Shadow of a Woman (1997), and The Neighing of Distances(1999), which all probe questions of feminine liberation and selfhood. This is her first novel to be translated into English. Born in Palestine of Lebanese origin, Nora Nweihid Halwani now lives in Beirut. She is a scholar specializing in Arabic literature, author of a collection of short stories, and editor of the feminist magazine Al-Mar’a al-Jadida. Christopher Tingley was born in Brighton, England, and educated at the universities of London and Leeds. He has translated or co-translated many novels, poems, and short stories from the Arabic, among them Yusuf al-Qaid’s novel War in the Land of Egypt and the poetry for the two-volume Trends and Movements in Modern Arabic Poetry.
Tawfiq Yusuf Awwad
Death in Beirut (Washington DC : Three Continents Press / Boulder, Colorado : Lynne Reinner Press, 1976) Tragedy awaits Tamina, who is drawn by the lure of the city to leave her Shia Muslim village for the university in Beirut. Injured in a student demonstration, she is rescued by a young Maronite, Hani, who speaks convincingly of the dangers of anarchy and revolution. But once recovered, she is dazzled and seduced by the revolutionary journalist Ramzi. Disillusionment follows. Tamina eventually returns to Hani, to her studies, and to her work with the poorest of Lebanese and with Palestinian refugees. The tragic climax of the book foreshadows the terrible events in Lebanon in 1975.
Ibtisam Azem [novelist, NYC television journalist]
The Sleep Thief : Ghareeb Haifawi, two chapters translated by Sally Gomaa, in Banipal45 (2012)
Samira Azaam [Jaffa, now West Bank]
Her Tale Short stories : Time and Humanity and Feast from the Western Window
The Traveller and the Innkeeper (translated by William M. Hutchins; American University in Cairo Press, 2011)
Cell Block Five (novel on political prisoners in Iraq; Arabia Press, 2008)
The Last of the Angels (translated by William M. Hutchins; American University in Cairo Press, 2007)
The Eye of the Mirror translated by Samira Kawar, (Garnet Publishing, 1991, 1994, 2008)
A Compass for the Sunflower (translated by Catherine Cobham, The Women’s Press, 1979/1989
Balcony over the Fakihani (translated by Peter Clark with Christopher Tingley, Interlink Books, 2002) “These novellas effectively represent war and suffering from the point of view of disenfranchised peoples, both Beirutis and Palestinians. Recommended..” -Library Journal. The title story of Liyana Badr’s remarkable collection of three short novellas interweaves the narratives of three Palestinians, two women and one man, relating their successive uprootings: from Palestine in 1948, from Jordan during Black September in 1970, to their final exile in Beirut. Badr’s intensively evocative contrapuntal style allows the reader to glimpse the joy and despair of these lives rooted in exile and resistance. There is an attention to detail in these stories that brings the grand narrative of Palestinian history alive: a horrified mother spotting a white hair on her baby’s head the morning after a mortar attack in Beirut; a woman hiding a Palestinian resistance fighter’s gun moments before he is picked up by the Jordanian security police. The final movement of A Balcony over the Fakihani is a deeply poetic and harrowing account of Israeli air strikes during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, told from the perspective we so rarely encounter: that of the disenfranchised people whose courage and suffering cannot fail to move the readers of this extraordinary book. Liyana Badr, a renowned novelist and short story writer across the Middle East, was born in Jerusalem and has herself lived through a series of exiles. Her works of fiction include one novel and three collections of short stories, as well as several stories for children. She currently lives in the West Bank. Peter Clark was born in Sheffield, England, and has two degrees in history. He has been employed since 1967 by the British Council, which he has represented in the Middle East. Among his works is Henry Hallam, Mamaduke Pickthall: British Muslim, and has translatedKarari and Dubai Tales. Christopher Tingley was born in Brighton, England, and educated at the universities of London and Leeds. He has translated or co-translated many novels, poems, and short stories from the Arabic, among them Yusuf al-Qaid’s novel War in the Land of Egypt and the poetry for the two-volume Trends and Movements in Modern Arabic Poetry.
Shimon Ballas (Israeli born in Baghdad)
Outcast (1991 Hebrew; 2005 English; City Lights Books, 2007) 70 years of Iraqi history as an Iraqi Jew converts to Islam.
Halim Isber Barakat (renowned Syrian-Lebanese sociologist-novelist, from American University Beirut, the University of Texas, and Harvard University)
Days of Dust (Medina University Press, 1974 / Lynne Reinner Press, 1983 / Three Continents Press, 1983) Translated by Trevor Le Gassick (University of Michigan). Reviewer’s blurb : “Focusing on the interaction of finely portrayed characters from all elements of society, Days of Dust depicts the existential drama of the Six Days War as it was experienced on a personal level. The novel provides a remarkable perspective for comprehending Palestinian uprootedness and a people s unceasing struggle for a homeland. It was first published in Arabic in 1969. Contains original drawings by Kamal Boullata.” Introduction by Edward Said.
Six Days (Three Continents Press, 1990) – translated by Bassam Franeigh / Scott McGehee. Short 1961 novel, originally Sittat Ayyam, derides the disfunctionality of an Arab village in the face of Israeli attack.
Hoda Barakat (novelist with a focus on the Lebanese civil war – now living in Paris)
Disciples of Passion (Syracuse University Press, 2005)
The Tiller of Waters (translated by Marilyn Booth; American University in Cairo Press, 2001)
The Stone of Laughter (translated by Sophie Bennett, Interlink Books, 1995) Set during the Lebanese civil war and insightful regarding the urban civilian population’s behariour during it. Some focus on constant analysis of news, while many others, the “utterly confused…the sullen ones…who move the most.” Vignettes, such as the wealthy citizens hiring ambulances to take them to nightclubs, scatter across the pages like shrapnel. Probably the first Arabic novel to have a gay man as the central character and follows a swerving narrative, in the oblique manner of some Arabic fiction.
Ibtisam Barakat (Palestinian-American memoirist, poet, educator)
Free? Stories about Human Rights (Amnesty International / Candlewick Publications, 2010) One piece in this anthology for young readers.
What a Song Can Do : 12 Riffs on the Power of Music (Knopf / Laurel-Leaf Books, 2006
Note : other pieces and interviews in issues of periodicals : Wasafiri, Modern Poetry in Translation, and Bookbird. See also : BIOGRAPHY and OLDER PALESTINE HISTORY sections.
Eyad Barghuthy [Acre resident]
A Fateful Meal, short story translated by John Peate, in Banipal 45.
Eileen G. Baron
A Fly Has a Hundred Eyes ; Set in the Turmoil of Palestine in 1938 (Academy Chicago Publishers, 2002) Archeologist-anthropologist professor’s mystery novel, part of the Lily Sampson series.
Raji Bathish [poet + five collections of short stories, not in English]
Nakba Lite, short story translated by Suneela Mubayi, in Banipal 45 (2012)
Toothbrush and Other Plays ; A Collection of 30 Five-minute Plays Created and Performed by Palestinian Children (Hands Up Project / Gilgamesh Publishing, 2019) with preface, Matthias Schmalem Durector, UNWRA Gaza; foreword by Scott Thornbury
Issa J Boulatta
A Retired Gentleman and Other Stories (Banipal Publications, 2007) Issa J Boullata’s characters are emigrants to Canada and the USA from Arab countries, living with pasts that cannot be relived, with exile and loss. How do you settle into a new life? What happens to all your old relations? How do you go about making new ones? Can you find happiness? Can you fall in love again? After a lifetime working as a professor and a translator of Arabic literature, Palestinian scholar and author Issa J Boullata regales his readers with a collection of tales that looks resolutely and quietly at life’s hopes, dreams and loves. Issa J Boullata was born in Jerusalem. He is a writer, literary scholar and critic, an educator and translator who started his academic career with a PhD in Arabic literature from London University in 1969. Formerly Professor of Arabic Literature at McGill University in Montreal, he introduced and translated a ground-breaking poetry anthology Modern Arab Poets, 1950-1975 (1976) and has translated a number of contemporary Arab authors including Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Mohamed Berrada, Emily Nasrallah and Ghada Samman, winning translation awards for two of the works. His latest translation is the autobiography of the distinguished Palestinian intellectual, the late Hisham Sharabi. Issa J Boullata’s writings in Arabic include a novel A’id ila al-Quds (Returning to Jerusalem) and a biography Badr Shakir al-Sayyab: His Life and Poetry. He is a contributing editor of Banipal magazine.
Ahlam Bsharat (Tammun/Jenin/Ramalah writer-broadcaster)
Code Name : Butterfly (Neem Tree Press, 2016) Young adult novel. Translated by Nancy Roberts.
Nassib D. Bulos
Jerusalem Crossroads (Beirut : Dar An-Nahar, 2003) Publisher’s blurb : ” The story of Leah, a young and beautiful woman working at the Jewish Agency, and Nabeel, a promising young Palestinian journalist, and their impossible love set against a background of intrigue, violence, betrayal, terror and bloodshed. The author, a Palestinian who witnessed the events, portrayed characters accordingly.”
Sami Shalom Chetrit
Doll’s Eye (Xlibris, 2013) Moroccan Israeli (Mizrahi) who tried to start a high school emphasising Arab Jewish heritage.
Michelle Cohen Corasanti
The Almond Tree (Garnet, 2012) Reviewer’s blurb : “Gifted with a mind that continues to impress the elders in his village, Palestinian Ichmad Hamid struggles with knowing that he can do nothing to save his friends and family. Living on occupied land, his entire village operates in fear of losing their homes, jobs, and belongings. But more importantly, they fear losing each other. On Ichmad’s twelfth birthday, that fear becomes reality. With his father imprisoned, his family’s home and possessions confiscated, and his siblings quickly succumbing to hatred in the face of conflict, Ichmad begins an inspiring journey using his intellect to save his poor and dying family. In doing so he reclaims a love for others that was lost through a childhood rife with violence and loss, and discovers a new hope for the future. Reminiscent of The Kite Runner and One Thousand Splendid Suns, this is an uplifting read that conveys a message of optimism and hope.”
My Name is Rachel Corrie : The Writings of Rachel Corrie [stage play based on the activist’s diaries; Corrie 1979-2003] Edited by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner (Nick Hern Press, 2005)
Out of It (Bloomsbury, 2011) Gaza-relevant novel of great influence, not only because it has sold well, but also because it’s a thrilling quilt stitched with human disappointment and compassion.
Susan Muaddi Darraj
A Curious Land – Stories from Home (University of Massachusetts Press, 2015) – Stories set in the West Bank village of Tel al-Hilou.
The Inheritance of Exile – Stories from South Philly (University of Notre Dame Press, 2007)
Marcello Di Cintio (Canadian journalist)
Pay No Heed to Rockets : Palestine in the Present Tense (Saqi Books, 2018) A lyrical travelogue of the author’s meetings with Palestinian writers, poets, librarians, booksellers, readers and literary salon hosts.
Waiting for Paradise (publisher unidentified, 2007) – Reviewer’s blurb : “Sean MacNamee has just been given the opportunity to be what he’s always dreamed of being: a true hero. A self-decribed “lowly prison guard” whose real love is boozin’, women, and Bruce Springsteen songs, MacNamee is stunned to learn that he has been chosen by the warden to interview an imprisoned Palestinian terrorist, Ali Hassam, in hopes of gathering insights that could be useful in the war against terrorism. Following the murder of two Israelis and four Jewish-Americans in Jerusalem, Hassam has been in the U.S. prison for 25 years and has not spoken a word to anyone in that time. But after 9/11, the United States is leaving no stone unturned in the search for ways to decipher the minds of radical Muslims. Still, the guard can’t believe that he–with a lifetime of underachievement behind him–was given this assignment. Was MacNamee being set up by the warden? How can he explain his association with the country’s most infamous Islamic terrorist to his Jewish friends? And, anyway, why would Hassam open up to him? Incredibly, MacNamee is able to get Hassam to tell him the story of Deir Yassin and the village’s role in the current Middle East conflict. But his Jewish friends have a different story to tell, while the government may have a separate agenda. Sean’s confusion ultimately yields to a fateful decision, one that could either make him a hero–or get him killed.”
Susan Muaddi Durraj
A Curious Land : Stories from Home (University of Massachusetts Press, 2015) – A book of short stories, which aren’t narratively distinct as you’d expect.
Fadia Faqir [Amman born, in 1980s at the University of East Anglia; lectured at Durham University]
Willow Trees Don’t Weep (Heron, 2014)
Cry of the Dove (Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007)
My Name is Salma (Doubleday, 2007)
Pillars of Salt (Quartet Books, 1996) – Set in Jordan during the British Mandate.
Nisanit (Aidan Ellis, 1987/Penguin, 1988) An outstanding, fast-paced, time-shifting 1960s-1980s novel of chilling futility in the West Bank. Compelling storytelling.
Joseph R. Farag (University of Minnesota; contributor to the Journal of Arabic Literature)
Politics and Palestinian Literature in Exile : Gender, Aesthetics and Resistance in the Short Story (IB Tauris & University of Texas Press, 2016) part of SOAS Palestine Studies series. Drawing from the works of Samira Azzam, Ghassan Kanafani and Ibrahim Nasrallah, Farag traces developments in the short story as they relate to the pivotal events of what the Palestinians call the Nakba (‘catastrophe’), Naksa (‘defeat’) and First Intifada (‘uprising’).
Astra (Jo Fletcher Books, 2014) Through this remarkable travelogue to another world, one realises soon that the folks strutting about are as shoehorned into their own collective myths as we are in the non-fictitious world today. Some dystopic Sci-Fi markers are there, with humans having to walk between the consequences of climate change and the aftermath of war waged for power and resources. But this is just the stage set. The real actors here, inhabitants of “Is-land,” are madly clannish communities flaunting the unfortunate, eternal talent of demonising the others of the world. The 20th century saw nations who fell for this nonsense, and it’s still hiding in the wings if you really look. Astra can be seen today as an allegory on Israeli Settlers’ messianic beliefs and their fear of Palestinians. And society’s self-censorship too. The good news is that we can rise up to oppose it, each in our own way, as the author has done with this encouraging novel of novel encouragement.
Ibrahim Fawal (b. Ramallah)
The Disinherited (Montgomery, Alabama : NewSouth Books, 2013) Publisher’s blurb : “In this sequel to Ibrahim Fawal’s critically acclaimed On the Hills of God (winner of the PEN Oakland Award), the young Palestinian Yousif Safi searches throughout Jordan for Salwa, his bride, from whom he was separated during their forced exodus after the catastrophe (nakba) of 1948. Amidst the squalor of refugee camps, and beside himself with anxiety for Salwa, Yousif joins his countrymen in trying to exist while waiting to be restored to their homeland. Why, they ask, did this tragedy befall their country and its people? Why had the holy land been turned into a battleground? And now they’ve become a people without a land. As weeks turn to months and months to years, the Palestinians’ hopes dim, yet Yousif does find his beloved Salwa, and they joyfully begin their new life together. The Disinherited follows the young couple as expatriate workers in Kuwait, then as students in Cairo. Always they are working and organizing, joining with their fellows to develop schools, newspapers, and increasingly militant organizations. Their dream is to unite the Palestinian people around the world, and to regain their homeland. In measured, epic storytelling, Fawal masterfully weaves a second chapter in the story of the Palestinian diaspora.”
On the Hills of God (Montgomery, Alabama : Black Belt Press, 1993 / Montgomery, Alabama : NewSouth Books, 2002, 2006) Publisher’s blurb : “On the Hills of God describes the year-long journey of a boy becoming a man, while all that he has known crumbles to ashes. The novel has been translated into German and Arabic and won the PEN Oakland Award for literary excellence. Critic Ishmael Reed calls it “a monumental book.” This revised edition includes a new introduction. When we first encounter Palestinian Yousif Safi in June 1947, he is filled with hopes for his education abroad to study law, and with daydreams of his first love, the beautiful Salwa. But as the future of Palestine begins to look bleak due to the pressure on the United Nations from the international Zionist movement, Yousif is frustrated by his fellow Arabs’ inability to thwart the Zionist encroachment and by his own inability to prevent the impending marriage of Salwa to an older suitor chosen by her parents. As Palestinians face the imminent establishment of Israel, Yousif resolves to face his own responsibilities of manhood. Despite the monumental odds against him, Yousif vows to win back both his loves — Salwa and Palestine — and create his world anew.”
Note : Author also wrote the biography Youssef Chahine (London : British Film Institute, 2001, 2002) Publisher’s blurb : “A discussion of the frequently controversial film maker Youssef Chahine. The book aims to illuminate Chahine’s work in the context of modern Egyptian culture and its tumultuous post-war history and how such films as “Cairo Station” (1958), “The Earth” (1959) and “The Sparrow” (1973) dramatized the dilemmas of ordinary Egyptians. He also argues that Chahine’s intensely autobiographical trilogy “Alexandria…Why?” (1978), “An Egyptian Story” (1985) and “Alexandria…More and More” (1989) spoke to the concerns of the broader Egyptian intelligentsia amongst whom he has earned the reputation of being the “poet and thinker” of modern Arab cinema. The final analysis of the book argues that Chahine’s work stands comparison with directors such as Fellini, Bergman, Kurosawa or Sembene but also emphatically draws strength from its links with one of the most vibrant popular cinemas of the world and from the roots and traditions of popular Arabic culture.”
The Hilltop (Scribner, 2014, 2015) – Dysfunctional west Bank settlement comedy-drama with slight Palestinian participation.
Almost Dead aka Croc-Attack! (Harper, 2010 / Fourth Estate, 2011) – Comedic terrorist thriller.
Zeina B. Ghandour
The Honey (Interlink Books, 2008) “A Palestinian girl’s transgression has strange repercussions (‘little waves of consequence that travel like vibrations’) in Zeina B. Ghandour’s “The Honey”. Young, impulsive Ruhiya gives the morning call to prayer as her father lies on his deathbed, even though it is forbidden under Islamic law for a woman to do this. Elliptical and lyrical, this is less a novel than a glimpse into the minds of the five narrators: Ruhiya herself; Yehya, her childhood love and a would-be terrorist; his father, Farhan; Maya, a foreign journalist; and Asrar, the little girl who was the only eyewitness to Ruhiya’s deed.” —Publishers Weekly. Ruhiya is an intensely spiritual young girl, the muezzin’s daughter in an oasis village in Palestine under Israeli occupation. One night her childhood love, a recently converted fundamentalist, sets off on a suicide mission. Ruhiya breaches one of the deepest taboos of Islam by chanting the call to the dawn prayer herself. At the last moment her song reaches him and instead of detonating the explosives that have been strapped to him, he retreats and runs. The same day a foreign journalist, sent to the village to cover the two stories, is faced with a wall of silence. She seeks answers with the encouragement of a little girl who hears and sees everything, the keeper of all secrets. The honey is a magic substance healing everything. It runs through the land like its lifeblood. Through the themes of suicide and liberation, the story of a woman, a village, and a people is told. Zeina B. Ghandour was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1966. She studied law at Kent University in the United Kingdom specializing in Jewish and Islamic law. The Honey is her first novel. “Islam is often unjustly called sexist, yet aspects of Islamic practice are almost always patriarchal, for instance, the adhan, or call to prayer. Ruhiya’s father normally chants the adhan, but he has fallen ill. Worse, her beloved, Yehya, has left their village in Israeli-occupied Palestine for Jerusalem. Breaking a deep taboo, Ruhiya calls the community to prayer, and miraculously, Yehya hears her in Jerusalem and aborts the suicide mission he has planned. Add a journalist, a near-omniscient little girl, and the ubiquitous presence of honey, and you have this short, compelling fable. The rare novel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that acknowledges the complicated experiences and feelings on both sides without making an overt political statement, it is the story of a woman’s need to assert herself in nontraditional ways…a little gem.” —Booklist. “…the story is so tightly packed that every word resonates and multiple readings are required…a glinting little novel that emanates big ideas about politics, pleasure, language, religion and fulfillment, be it earthy or otherwise.” —The National. See also : OLDER PALESTINE HISTORY.
To the End of the Land (Jonathan Cape, 2010) Israeli epic novel includes power relations between Jews and Palestinians in Israel.
Saraya, the Ogre’s Daughter – A Palestinian Fairy Tale (German Colony, Jerusalem : Ibis Editions, 2006) His last novel, originally published in 1992.
The Secret Life of Saeed, The Pessoptimist (translated by Salma Khadra Jayyusi and Trevor LeGassick, Interlink Books, 2001 / Zed Books, 1985 + other editions). An undisputed classic, the story of a Palestinian who becomes a citizen of Israel, combines fact and fantasy, tragedy and comedy. Saeed is the comic hero, the luckless fool, whose tale tells of aggression and resistance, terror and heroism, reason and loyalty that typify the hardships and struggles of Arabs in Israel. An informer for the Zionist state, his stupidity, candor, and cowardice make him more of a victim than a villain; but in a series of tragicomic episodes, he is gradually transformed from a disaster-haunted, gullible collaborator into a Palestinian—no hero still, but a simple man intent on survival and, perhaps, happiness. The author was a Communist member of the Knesset. Edward Said considered this the first postmodern Palestinian fiction. Translated by Anton Shammas into Hebrew,The Secret Life of Saeed won Israel’s foremost Prize for Literature; a stage version played to great acclaim for a decade.
Flying Carpets (Interlink books, 2013) A story collection in the grand tradition of Arab storytelling. In it, Habra masterfully waves her writing wand and takes us on a journey as we read about people and places far away and encounter temples and mountain villages, gliding boats and fragrant kitchens, flaming fish and rich tapestries. The stories recover lost, partially forgotten and imaginary spaces, progressing from the concrete to the universal. The first two sections move between Egypt and Lebanon with a touch of magic realism. In the second half of the collection, the characters become less rooted in time and space as the dreamlike elements intensify. Throughout the book, storytelling and fortunetelling evoke a mythical past that is at the same time lost yet alive: love, loss, the yearning for alternate worlds, and the need to reinvent oneself through art permeate its pages. Hedy Habra was born in Egypt and is of Lebanese origin. She is the author of a poetry collection, Tea in Heliopolis, and a book of literary criticism, Mundos alternos y artísticos en Vargas Llosa. She has an MA and an MFA in English and an MA and PhD in Spanish literature, all from Western Michigan University, where she currently teaches. She is the recipient of WMU’s All-University Research and Creative Scholar Award. She has published more than 150 poems and short stories in journals and anthologies, including Cutthroat, Nimrod, The New York Quarterly, Cider Press Review and Poet Lore.
Palestine (Canada : Guernica Editions, 2014) Publisher’s blurb : “Somewhere in the West Bank, an Israeli patrol is assaulted by a Palestinian commando. One Israeli soldier is killed and another is kidnapped. Wounded, in a state of shock, the hostage loses hold of reality and forgets everything, even his own name. Eventually he is rescued, taken in by two Palestinian women and his wounds heal. He becomes Nessim, brother of Falastìn, an anorexic Law student; and son of Asmahane, the blind widow of an official who was shot dead in an ambush. Nessim passes through the looking glass, suffering the daily anguish of the inhabitants of the colonised West Bank. In this poignant novel, Hubert Haddad makes Falastìn a modern Antigone: proud, untamed and the victim of man’s cruelty. Reflecting the beauty of the setting in his style, he models a modern tragedy in all its horror and absurdity.”
Ishmael’s Oranges (OneWorld, 2014) Mixed marriage novel of a Nakba exile finding a Jewish partner in 1960s London. Author has a UN and BBC World Service background.
Yoella Har-Shefi (Legal Adviser, Ani Israeli)
Beyond the Gunsights : One Arab family in the Promised Land (Houghton Mifflin, 1980) This is a fiction of a novel in that it’s all based on fact with the names changed. The author spills cultural nuances from her sleeves in this insightful book, taking in Muslim social mores, political history, contemporary corruption, extended family obligations, and human love and comradeship for its own sake. And although written at the close of the 1970s, it’s still relevant for today.
Samuel Hazo (poet and translator of the poet Adonis)
The Time Remaining (Syracuse University Press, 2012) – Thriller of journalist investigating the death of his former university roommate, a Palestinian scholar.
The Resting Place on the Moon – with introduction by Jeff Halper (Dublin : OtherWorld / O’Brien Press, 2007)
Mischa Hiller [Cambridge]
Onions and Diamonds, in Penny Johnson & Raja Shehadeh, eds : Seeking Palestine – New Palestinian Writing on Exile and Home (Northampton, Massachusetts : Olive Branch Press, 2013)
Sabra Zoo (Sabra & Beirut-set, Telegram Books, 2010) A young Palestinian man’s right of passage, to see if he’s up to the struggle.
Shake Off (Telegram Books/Mulholland Books, 288pp, 2011, 2013) Title means ‘intifada’ and apropos to this well-received spy thriller, and an “Oh No!” twist.
Ala Hlehel [Acre resident, written for the Royal Court Theatre]
The Tent (2012), translated by Robin Moger, in Banipal 45.
My Husband is a Bus Driver, published in Banipal 23 (2005)
Hassan Jamal Husseini
Return to Jerusalem (Quartet Emerging Voices, 1998) It is one thing to know such things happen; another to experience them at first hand. A Palestinian journalist, working for the Arab Press in Jerusalem, returns home late from work. In the small hours of the following morning, the security forces knock at his door. They remove him from his family, handcuff and blindfold him and take him away for interrogation. Absorbed into the prison system, he is subjected to techniques of humiliation and deprivation in an overcrowded cell and the alternating brutality and subtle reasonableness of the interrogators. The long hours of inaction between times are lightened only by thoughts of the tenderness of his family life and the conversation of fellow prisoners. These debates, reflecting many shades of experience and opinion, unfold against the background of his wife’s unwavering support and the continuing history of Israel’s occupation of the territories. An Israeli lawyer a man of integrity, takes up his case and introduces a ray of hope — yet seems powerless to divert the authorities’ intentions as these finally emerge. Hassan Husseini has written in Return to Jerusalem a novel of haunting human interest at one level and at another a timely appeal for the recognition of the rights of Palestinians in their ancestral homeland on a foundation of moderation and natural justice. Hassan Jamal Husseini was born in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1925 and was educated at various schools in the Middle East. He attended the American University, Beirut, and Syracuse University, New York. He studied music as an amateur at the Paris Conservatoire. In 1951 he entered the Saudi Diplomatic Service, serving a five-year posting at the London Embassy. He left to become the Middle East representative of the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Bank, and works today in financial consultancy. He is married and has three children. In undertaking his research for Return to Jerusalem, Husseini interviewed former prisoners from Israel’s security prisons to ensure the documentary authenticity of the novel’s background.
Donn Hutchison (Ramallah teacher)
When I was a Girl and not very Pretty – Hasna’s Story (author, 2015) – Part one of ‘A Palestinian Saga’
The Well (author, 2016) – Part two of ‘A Palestinian Saga’
Nassar Ibrahim, Dr. Majed Nassar
Small Dreams : 14 Short Stories from Palestine (illustrations by Naji al-Alix; Ramallah : Bailasan Design, 2003)
see also : Palestine History Today
Sonallah Ibrahim [The Egyptian ‘Franz Kafka’]
The Smell of It, and other stories (translated by Denys Johnson-Davies, 1978) (Heinemann Educational, 1971 / 1978; American University in Cairo Press, 2002)
Jabra Ibrahim Jabra
The Journals of Sarab Affan : A Novel -translated by Shassan Nasr (Syracuse University Press, 2007)
In Search of Walid Masoud : A Novel – Politically striving Palestinians in 1960s Baghdad, translated by Roger Allen & Adnan Haydar (Syracuse University Press, 289pp, 2000)
Reflections in a Marble Monument (Riad El-Rayyes, 1989) – Possibly in Arabic and English – unconfirmed.
The Ship (Boulder, Colorado : Lynne Reinner Press / Three Continents Press, 1985)
Hunters in a Narrow Street (Heinemann, 1960 / Boulder, Colorado : Lynne Reinner Press, with introduction by Roger Allen, 1997)
see also OLDER PALESTINE HISTORY and BIOGRAPHY
-“Jabra belonged to that educated, modernising, and emerging generation that wanted to overhaul the Arab world and rid it of dependence, economic Backwardness, and stifling social customs.” – Bashir Abu-Mannah, in The Palestinian Novel (CUP, 2016).
Randa Jarrar (b.Chicago, Kuwait, Egypt, Texas)
A Map of Home (New York, Other Press, 2008) Nidali Ammar is born in Boston to a Greek-Egyptian mother and a Palestinian father, and is re-routed to Kuwait, Egypt and eventually Austin,Texas. A comedy of complex identities that applauds the breaking away from inhibiting traditions.
Isra’a Kalash [Gaza, Hay Festival Beirut 2013]
Fifty Years after the Nakba and Identity, two short stories translated by Ibtisam Barakat, in Banipal 45 (2012). Khaha’ Matba’i, short story compendium, won AM Qattan Award (al-Ahliyya Publishers, Amman, 2010). Unidentified short story inAwda : Imagined Testimonies from Possible Futures (Zochrot Press, Tel Aviv & Jaffa, 2013).
Ghassan Kanafani (b. 1936 in Akka [Acre], exiled in 1948, later a politically active journalist in Beirut during the 1960s. Killed in the explosion of his booby-trapped car in July 1972. Note : his complete works in Arabic were published as a 17-book set by Rimal Publications in 2014.
All That’s Left to You – A Novella and other stories (translated by May Jayyusi & Jeremy Reed; intro. by Roger Allen; Interllink Publications, 2004) It should come as no surprise to learn that Palestinian writers themselves have been in the forefront of those who have addressed themselves to the tragedy of their own people, and in a variety of genres and styles… While all these writers display a sense of “commitment” to the cause of their people, there is one author who, in the words of the Egyptian writer, Yusuf Idris, has taken this cause to the utmost limit of martyrdom: Ghassan Kanafani. From the introduction by Roger Allen All That’s Left to You presents the vivid story of twenty-four hours in the real and remembered lives of a brother and sister living in Gaza and separated from their family. The desert and time emerge as characters as Kanafani speaks through the desert, the brother, and the sister to build the powerful rhythm of the narrative. The Palestinian attachment to land and family, and the sorrow over their loss, are symbolized by the young man’s unremitting anger and shame over his sister’s sexual disgrace. This collection of stories provides evidence to the English-reading public of Kanafani’s position within modern Arabic literature. Not only was he committed to portraying the miseries and aspirations of his people, the Palestinians, in whose cause he died, but he was also an innovator within the extensive world of Arabic fiction.
Palestine’s Children – Short Stories -translated by Barbara Harlow; pieces written in the 1960s but set between the Palestinian Arab uprisings in 1936 to the Six Day War in 1967 (Washington DC : Three Continents Press / Heinemann, 1984) Contents : The Slope (1961) / Paper from Ramleh (1965) / A Present for the Holiday (1968, refugee camp setting)/ The Child Borrows His Uncle’s Gun and Goes East to Safad (1965, from the Mansur stories)/ Doctor Qassim Talks to Eva about Mansur Who Has Arrived in Safad (1965, from the Mansur stories) / Abu al-Hassan Ambushes an English Car / The Child, His Father and the Gun Go to the Citadel at Jaddin / The Child Goes to the Camp (1967, refugee camp setting) / The Child Discovers that the Key Looks Like an Axe / Suliman’s Friend Learns Many Things in One Night / Hamid Stops Listening to the Uncles’ Stories (1967) / Guns in the Camp (1969, refugee camp setting) / He Was a Child That Day (1969) / Return to Haifa (1969) / Six Eagles and a Child (1960)
Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories (translated by Hilary Kilpatrick; Heinemann 1978 / Lynne Rienner Publishing, 1999) Contents : Letter from Gaza(1956) / The Land of Sad Oranges (1958) / If You were a Horse (1961) / The Falcon(1961) / A Hand in the Grave (1962) / Umm Saad (1969)
Muhammad Siddiq (University of Washington) : Man is a Cause : Political Consciousness and the Fiction of Ghassan Kanafani (University of Washington Press, 1994)
Stefan Wild (Qur’anic scholar at the University of Bonn & University of Amsterdam) : Ghassan Kanafani : The Life of a Palestinian (Wiesbaden : Harrassowitz, 1975)
Note : Men in the Sun (1962) was made into the first Palestinian feature film, The Dupes (1972), with a slightly different ending – not the plot – by the screenplay writer Tawfiq Salih; see also OLDER PALESTINE HISTORY.
Sayed Kashua (Palestinian-Israeli author, contributor to Ha’aretz and writer of Israeli television sitcom, Arab Labor, now in USA)
Exposure (translated from Hebrew by Mitch Ginsburg) (Chatto & Windus, 2013)
Second Person Singular (translated from Hebrew by Mitch Ginsburg; Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013)
Let it be Morning (translated from Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger; Atlantic Books, 2006/7)
Dancing Arabs (translated from Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger; Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press, 2004) Made into a film by director Eran Riklis, 2014. Love between a Jewish Israeli woman and a Palestinian Arab man.
See also author’s memoir : Native : Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life (Grove Press/Atlantic Monthly Press, 2016)
Ziad Khaddash [Al-Jalzoun Camp, Ramallah]
With Cold Eyes and Winter in a Man’s Shirt, short stories in Banipal 45 (2012)
The Absence of a Sister, short story in Banipal 19 (2004).
Yasmina Khadra (pen name of Algerian writer Mohammed Moulessehoul)
The Attack (Vintage, 2007) Palestinian-Israeli surgeon in Tel Aviv takes to the road of political enlightenment.
The Keepers of Infinite Space (Oberon Books Ltd., 2014) ‘You’ve got to learn when to throw your punches – when they least expect it. There’s no use flailing in the dark. This is where battles are raged – and wars won.’ Saeed is a bookseller in Nablus. His father Khalil is a property developer. They’re just an ordinary family, quietly building a new Palestine. Until one day Saeed is arrested and thrown into gaol. Ashis future disappears, Saeed finds that the answer to his problems may lie in the past, and in the secrets his father has kept from him… Since the Israeli occupation in 1967, Palestine has become a nation of prisons. Up to 40% of the male population have been detained under military orders. Virtually every family has seen at least one relative put behind bars, and entire generations have grown up facing the prospect of the cell. With the release of political prisoners a key part of the current peace process, The Keepers of Infinite Space explores the dynamics of the Israeli prison system to reveal its fraught legacy for Israelis and Palestinians alike. 750,000 prisoners. Since the Israeli occupation in 1967, Palestine has become a nation of prisons. Up to 40 of the male population has been detained under military orders. Virtually every family has seen relatives put behind bars and generations have grown up in the shadow of the cell. The team behind the international hit The Fear of Breathing (4 starsTelegraph, Metro, Independent, Time Out Critics Choice) chronicle a hidden world of incarceration where imaginative resistance, strange escapades and unexpected betrayals have become the norm.
Ismail Khalidi & Naomi Wallace, editors, with introduction by Nathalie Handal(see POETRY section)
Inside / Outside : Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora (Theatre Communications Group, 2015) – Contents : Ismail Khalidi : Tennis in Nablus / Dalia Taha : Keffiyeh – Made in China / Hannah Khalil : Plan D / Abdelfattah Abusrour : Handala / Betty Shamieh : Territories / Imad Farajin : 603.
Sahar Khalifeh (Nablus native, on faculty of University of Florida, resides in Amman) Author who recognises the resentment by migrant workers of the Palestinian elite.
Of Noble Origins – translated by Aida Bamia (American University in Cairo Press, 2012)
The End of Spring (translated by Paula Haydar, Interlink Books, 2008) Novel chronicles the struggle of the Palestinian people with a humane depiction of Palestinian resistance fighters during the 2002 siege of Yasir Arafat’s official headquarters. Khalifeh’s tender and moving portrayal of her protagonists delves into the inner consciences of the men and women and children who were involved in the actual resistance-or were simply caught in the middle.
The Image, the Icon, and the Covenant (translated by Aida Bamia; Cairo : American University in Cairo Press, 2007) From Publisher’s Weekly : In the mid-1960s, Ibrahim, a Palestinian-Muslim school teacher with literary ambitions, takes a job in a small Jordanian village and falls in love with Mariam, a Christian raised in Brazil who has returned to her home village. The problem with this love affair, as Ibrahim realizes in the retrospective voice that dominates the novel, is that he has loved his image of Mariam and has never understood her as a real person. Reality intrudes, however, when Mariam becomes pregnant: Ibrahim is paralyzed by the difficulties a Muslim-Christian marriage presents, and jealous of Mariam’s prior adoration of a Brazilian priest. His growing commitment to Palestinian liberation after the 1967 war allows him to justify his return. When he returns to Jordan in 2000—a wealthy, twice-divorced and disillusioned secular Arab—he becomes obsessed with finding Mariam and his unknown son. The title’s complexities mirror those of this fugue-like novel, which finds Ibrahim cycling among versions of himself and of Mariam. As Ibrahim’s realizations pile up, their irreconcilability becomes a delicate and powerful allegory for Middle Eastern conflict. Palestinian novelist Khalifeh (Wild Thorns), who won the 2006 Naguib Mahfouz medal for literature, offers a challenging take on vexing territory.
The Inheritance (American University in Cairo Press, 2005) translated by Aida Bamia; Palestinian-American gets exiled from Kuwait to the West Bank during Saddam Hussein’s 1991 invasion.
Wild Thorns (Translated by Trevor LeGassick & Elizabeth Fernea, Saqi Books, 2005) 1970s classic even more relevant today, forces the reader to confront the impatient idealism of so many non-resident observers. “A vivid depiction of life in the West Bank during the first decade of the Israeli occupation…. The difficulties and hazards faced by these workers are poignantly portrayed…The author succeeds quite well in conveying the tension and inquietude of daily life in the territories…she also evokes the irrepressible and indomitable spirit of Nablus and its people.” – MultiCultural Review. “An earnest Arabic novel, first published in 1976, that dramatizes the reactions of Palestinian nationalists to Israeli occupation of the West Bank, an action that has turned many of their countrymen into nomads dutifully commuting to alien territory to work ( . . . the people had become soft, been brainwashed with lies and Israeli cash). Khalifeh’s initial focus on Usama, a young Palestinian returned home to find his relatives compromised in this way, yields to more diffused depictions of several other characters with whom he finds himself conspiring to blow up buses transporting day-workers. The conspiracy raises havoc with the story’s formal unity but does enable it to portray credibly a troubling spectrum of understandably extreme responses to disenfranchisement and oppression.” –Kirkus Reviews. Wild Thorns is a chronicle of life in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Written in Arabic and first published in Jerusalem in 1976, Wild Thorns, with its panorama of characters and unsentimental portrayals of everyday life, is the first Arab novel to give a true picture of social and personal relations under occupation. Its convincing sincerity, uncompromising honesty, and rich emotional texture plead elegantly for the cause of survival in the face of oppression.
Khulud Khamis (Haifa Palestinian who works with the Haifa Feminist Centre)
Haifa Fragments (New Internationalist, 2015) Publisher’s blurb : “Jewellery designer Maisoon wants an ordinary life, which isn’t easy for a Palestinian citizen of Israel who refuses to be crushed by the feeling she is an unwelcome guest in the land of her ancestors. Inspired after joining an activist peace movement and frustrated by the apathy of her boyfriend and father she lashes out, only to discover her father is not the man she thought he was. Raised a Christian, in a relationship with a Muslim man and enamoured with a Palestinian woman from the Occupied territories, Maisoon must decide her own path.”
Chaker Khazaal (New York City writer)
Tale of Tala (Beirut : Hachette Antoine, 2017) A thriller that focuses on the dark world of war displacement, human trafficking, and terrorism.
Confessions of a War Child (author, 2013) Intended first novel of a trilogy.
My Name is Adam : Children of the Ghetto, Volume 1 – translated by Humphrey Davies (MacLehose Press, 2018) Publisher’sblurb : “Who is Adam Dannoun? Until a few months before his death in a fire in his New York apartment – a consequence of smoking in bed – he thought he knew. But an encounter with Blind Mahmoud, a father figure from his childhood, changed all that. From Mahmoud he learned the terrible truth behind his birth, a truth withheld from him for fifty-seven years by the woman he thought was his mother. This discovery leads Adam to investigate what exactly happened in 1948 in Palestine in the city of Lydda where he was born: the massacre, the forced march into the wilderness and the corralling of those citizens who did not flee into what the Israeli soldiers and their Palestinian captives came to refer to as the Ghetto. The stories he collects speak of bravery, ingenuity and resolve in the face of unimaginable hardship. Saved from the flames that claimed him, they are his lasting and crucial testament.
The Broken Mirrors : Sinalcol – translated by Humphrey Davies (MacLehose Press, 2015) The Lebanese Civil War seen through the lives of two brothers.
As Though She Were Sleeping -translated by Humphrey Davies (Maclehose Press, 2011) – Set in Nazareth, 1947. Publisher’s blurb : “Meelya’s dreams are her refuge from events that threaten her or escape her understanding. She leaves her home in Lebanon to live in Nazareth with her Palestinian husband, but Mansour – an older man who fell for her beauty – is frustrated by her spiritual absence. When Mansour’s brother’s death demands a move to Jaffa – the centre of early tensions between Jewish settlers and displaced Palestinians – Meelya withdraws further into the realm of dreams. Expecting the birth of their son, Mansour can only watch as she cuts loose from the physical world. Over three traumatic nights, past, present and future merge seamlessly into a series of visions that draw the reader towards a conclusion that is powerfully symbolic of the ongoing troubles in the Middle East.”
The Kingdom of Strangers -translated by Paula Haydar (University of Arkansas Press, 2009) This mosaic portrayal of its author’s native Lebanon besieged by civil war in fact expands into a generalized examination of the chaos and despair suffered by families everywhere during wartime (e.g., in one of its segments that describes the unlikely friendship formed by an Arab and a Jew who meet in a neutral country and are thus without the support of their rival cultures). Briefly references Dr Chris Giannou (“Dr Yanu”), author of Besieged (1991).
Yalo -translated by Humphry Davies (MacLehose, 2009) Translator’s observation : “a young man accused to serial rape and theft is being interrogated in a Lebanese police station; in the process his understanding of the world changes utterly; amazingly, even some deadpan humor.”
Gate of the Sun -translated by Humphrey Davies (Seven Stories 2003 / Harvill Secker, 2005 / Vintage 2006) Translator’s observation : “best book written about Palestinian dispossession; very long and non-linear; sometimes infuriating but ultimately thrilling—as one critic pointed out, you really have to read it twice.”
White Masks (1989; translated by Maia Tabet, Beirut (in Arabic), 1981 / New York : Archipelago, 2010 / MacLehose Press, 2013) An appropriately frightening, squalid, terrorising read of the Lebanese civil war.
Little Mountain – translated by Maia Tabet with foreword by Edward Said (Carcanet, 1989)
The Time of Green Ginger (Macmillan, 1964) Extraordinary novel of a press officer for the Mandate government, 1939-1948, with a cast that includes savagery, corruption, humour, self-delusion, weariness, zealotry, sacrifice, wisdom, and sex. The author spent the 1940s in the Palestine-based British forces, who emerge only marginally more honourable than the HM Palestine Police in this superbly told tale. Sadly, another example of an ace writer’s sole published work; to paraphrase Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, “he coulda been a contender.”
Education under Occupation – Learning to Improvise (Discovery Analytical Resourcing, 2005) Brief yet rare insight into Birzeit University, the West Bank’s oldest and best-funded university, near Ramallah. A not entirely encouraging narrative resulting from staff cynicism and occupation fatigue, but important for that regardless.
Ash Kotak [Director of Palestinian Arts Online]
Hijra (Oberon Press, 2000) LGBT stage drama, which played the Royal Theatre, Plymouth and the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds.
Oranges in No Man’s Land (Macmillan Childrens, 2006) Ayesha, a 10-year-old girl in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War, braves the conflict to find Dr Leila, seeking medicine for her Granny. Not Palestinian, but related.
A Little Piece of Ground (Macmillan Childrens, 2003) Karim, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, works with two friends to transform an abandoned lot in Ramallah–the little piece of ground–into a soccer field and a getaway from the trials of both family and life under occupation.
“Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and Nakba” (Soon to be published in English – won the International Prize for Arab Fiction, April 2016)
The Lady from Tel Aviv (translated by Elliott Colla, Telegram Books/Al-Saqi, 2013)
Walid Dahman is going home. Returning to Gaza after nearly four decades in exile, he looks forward to embracing his mother and reconnecting with the people he left behind. Boarding the flight from London, Walid’s life intersects with that of Dana, an Israeli actress. The character of the title only does a walk-on, but it’s the narrator’s return to Palestine after many years, but the past ain’t what it was. It’s brave to quote Mahmoud Darwish in your own novel, so don’t do it unless you can write. Al-Madhoun really can and deserves more translations. “Al-Madhoun brings Gaza vividly to life” – Selma Dabbagh.” “Will take you to the height of reading pleasure!” – Elias Khoury
Lisa Suhair Majaj
as co-editor, with Amal Amireh : Etel Adnam : Critical Essays on the Arab-American Writer and Artist (McFarland, 2012)
with Susan Atefat Peckham : Intersections : Gender, Nation and Community in Arab Women’s Novels (Syracuse University Press, 2002)
as co-editor, with Amal Amireh : Going Global – The Transnational Reception of Third World Women Writers (Routledge, 2000/2014)
see also POETRY section.
The Palestinian Novel, from 1948 to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2016/2017) Publisher’s blurb : “What happens to the Palestinian novel after the national dispossession of the nakba, and how do Palestinian novelists respond to this massive crisis? This is the first study in English to chart the development of the Palestinian novel in exile and under occupation from 1948 onwards. By reading the novel in the context of the ebb and flow of Arab and Palestinian revolution, Bashir Abu-Manneh defines the links between aesthetics and politics. Combining historical analysis with textual readings of key novels by Jabra, Kanafani, Habiby, and Khalifeh, the chronicle of the Palestinian novel unfolds as one that articulates humanism, self-sacrifice as collective redemption, mutuality, and self-realization. Political challenge, hope, and possibility are followed by the decay of collective and individual agency. Genet’s and Khoury’s unrivalled literary homages to Palestinian revolt are also examined. By critically engaging with Lukács, Adorno, and postcolonial theory, questions of struggle and self-determination take centre stage.”
Fatima V. Mansour
Ruination (Author / CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2017) Publisher’s blurb : “What would Chicago look like if under military occupation? How does life change under a siege? Would Americans tolerate the south side of Chicago being imprisoned like the Gaza Strip? Ruination explores the issues young people encounter while under military siege.”
Ethel Mannin (Anarchist author, 1900-1984. Of her almost 100 titles, these represent most of the London writer’s “Arab period,” in the 1960s, always with a focus on the Palestinian struggle.)
Bitter Babylon [settings : Palestine, Cairo, gay San Francisco; uses the American Zionist attack TV interview described in her American Journey] (Hutchinson, 1968)
The Night and its Homing [fiction; Palestinian camp in Jordan] (Hutchinson, 1966)
The Road to Beersheba [fiction, the first and for many years the ONLY novel of the Nakba in English] (Hutchinson, 255pp, 1963)
I Am You : A Novel on Lesbian Desire in the Middle East (translated by Samar Habib, unknown Palestinian relevance; Cambria Press, 2008)
Ahmed Masoud (author, playwright, founder of the Zaytouna Dance Theatre)
Vanished : The Mysterious Disappearance of Mustafa Ouda (Rimal Publications, 2015)
Despite the back cover stating that “the novel does not aim to put forth any political arguments,” political collaboration is the running theme in this keen thriller. A young man searches to find his father in Gaza but the narrative is insightful regarding the deceptions of one’s neighbours.
Ibrahim Abdel Meguid / Al-Majid
The House of Jasmine, translated by Noha Radwan (Interlink Books, Northampton, Massachusetts, 2012) Egypt 1970s-setting, first published in Arabic, 1984; unconfirmed for Palestinian relevance.
Birds of Amber, translated – (Suez War setting, American University in Cairo Press, 2005)
No One Sleeps in Alexandria Translated by Farouk Abdel Waheb (Muslim-Copt relationships, American University in Cairo Press, 354pp, 1999, 2006)
The Other Place Translated by Farouk Abdel Waheb (Gulf workers theme, American University in Cairo Press, 1997)
Return (lulu.com, 2008) Semi-autographical novel about the artist in the diaspora.
Tamra (Brian & O’Keefe, 1983) Novel of friendship between a Lebanese Christian girl and her Palestinian girl friend, overcome by the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
see also POETRY section.
Mona N. Mikhail
Seen and Heard : A Century of Arab Women in Literature and Culture (Northampton, Massachusetts ; Interlink, 2002). How are Arab women seen by others? How do Arab women see themselves? New York University professor Mona Mikhail’s new collection of essays casts a wide net over literature, film, popular culture, and the law in order to investigate the living, often rapidly changing, reality of Arab women and their societies. Whether she examines Egyptian film, contemporary rewritings of the Sherazad story, or women in North African novels, Mikhail sheds valuable light on the role of Arab women within Islam and within the Arab world. Mona N. Mikhail, author of the groundbreaking Images of Arab Women: Fact and Fiction and Studies in the Short Fiction of Mahfuz and Idris, is a professor of Arabic and comparative literature at New York University. She has won several awards, namely from PEN and Columbia University, for her translations. Her most recent work is the film documentary Live Onstage: A Century and a Half of Theater in Egypt.
Ibrahim Muhawi (University of California at Davia, via Ramallah)
as co-editor, with Yasir Suleiman : Literature and Nation in the Middle East (Edinburgh University Press, 2006)
as co-editor/translator, with Sharif Kanaana : Speak, Bird, Speak Again : Palestinian Arab Folktales (University of California Press, 1989)
Cities of Salt (translated by Peter Theroux; Jonathan Cape, 1988 / Vintage, 1994) Originally published in Beirut in 1984, this 627-page epic brings to life many of the political issues that have plagued the Mideast for most of this century. Set in an unnamed gulf country that could be Jordan sometime in the 1930s, the novel relates what happens to the bedouin inhabitants of the small oasis community of Wadi al-Uyoun when oil is discovered by Americans. Seen through the eyes of a large and varied cast of bedouin characters, the upheaval caused by the American colonization is shown in various manifestations, from the first contact with the strange foreigners (“Their smell could kill birds!” observes Miteb al-Hathal, who later leads a rebellion of Arab workers when the village of Harran has been made into an American port city) to confused and suspicious descriptions of the sinister “magic” tools brought by the Americans which are in fact bulldozers, automobiles, radios and telephones. The story unfolds at a stately pace over a timespan of many years and provides an endless stream of characters and events, each connected to the next by many threads of plot. Theroux’s sensitive translation conveys the subtleties of ambiguity and nuance inherent to the Arab language and culture. Banned in several Mideast countries including Saudi Arabia, this is the first volume of a planned trilogy by a Paris-based Jordanian novelist who holds a law degree from the Sorbonne and a Ph.D. in oil economics from the University of Belgrade.
Sirat al-‘aqrab alladhi yatasabbab ‘araqan (The Tale of the Scorpion that Dripped with Sweat, Beirut : Dar al-Adab, 2008); chapters translated by Charis Bredin, in Banipal 45 (2012). Hawajis al-Iskandar (Alexander’s Obsessions, 2003). To be published : Iltabas al-amr ‘ala al-laqlaq (Confusing the Stork, Amman : Dar al-Ahliya)
Approach to Palestine (Falcon Press, 1947) Inside front flap: “‘All that this little book hopes to do,’ says the author, ‘is to provide a short means of approach to the problem of Palestine.’ Robin Maugham first saw Palestine while convalescing in 1942 after beign wounded in the Western Desert. Since then he has been in close touch with the Levant. He returned from his last visit to Palestine in the Spring 1947. This book is the result.” Dedication: “To [noted Arab historian] Albert Hourani from whose unpublished work on Palestine much of the first part of this book has been derived.”
Haneen Naamneh [Haifa & SOAS]
My Dear Sister and Panadol, two short stories translated by Ghenwa Hayek, in Banipal45 (2012)
Hamida Na’na (Syria-born philosopher, journalist, with UNESCO 1974-1977)
The Homeland (Garnet Publications, 1995) Loosely based on Leila Khaled. See also : Hanadi al-Samman : Anxiety of Erasure : Trauma, Authorship, and the Diaspora in Arab Women’s Writings (Syracuse University Press, 2015) with introduction by Fadia Faqir; translated by Martin Asser.
Tamara Naser [Palestinian from Toronto]
Superwoman, short story translated by Suneela Mubayi, in Banipal 45 (2012)
Land of No Rain (Bloomsbury Qatar, 2014) Former political exile returns to country ruled by military.
Ibrahim Nasrallah (Palestinian author-poet-teacher-journalist-translator-painter…)
Gaza Weddings (American University in Cairo Press, 2017) – translated by Nancy Roberts.
Kilimanjaro Spirit aka The Souls of Kilimanjaro (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation, 2016) Publisher’s blurb : “A group of disparate individuals, amongst whom two Palestinian adolescents who have lost their legs in Israeli bomb strikes, are preparing to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. They have nothing – and everything – in common. Hailing from Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and America, the characters test the limits of their physical and emotional strengths to prove to themselves that they can transcend their strife-ridden histories and accomplish the unexpected.”
Lanterns of the King of Galilee : A Novel of 18th Century Palestine (American University in Cairo Press, 2014)
A Time of White Horses (زمن الخيول البيضاء / ابراهيم نصر الل, 2007 / translated by Nancy Roberts (American University in Cairo Press, 634pp, 2012 / Hoopoe, 2016) The narrative is a lengthy sweep of Ottomania gradually getting replaced by Ziomania leading to the Nakba. But there’s more than a political focus on the Palestinian struggle. One recurring theme is land theft, by agents of the Ottoman rule, the church, the Mandate Government, other Arab Palestinians, and of course the Zionists themselves. Villains come from all ethnic backgrounds, but occasional, impressive generosity shines through the tragedies, even though the good side of human spirit doesn’t change the outcome of the Arab village. The victims hold on to their identity, despite offers to cash it in for free tickets to someone else’s show.
Prairies of Fever, surreal work, translated by May Jayyusi & Jeremy Reed (Interlink Books. 160pp, 1998)
Inside the Night, translated by Bakr R. Abbas, American University Press in Cairo, 176pp, 2007 Two nameless narrators roam back and forth in time, veering from childhood mischief to a Palestinian refugee camp massacre; from ardent first love to necessary migration to an Arab oil country for employment; from spirited adolescent fantasies to the grim reality of life in an Arab country whose claims to progress are mounted on the bent backs of its people.
Wall of Dust (Deux Voiliers Publishing, 2015) -from the publisher : Aisha, a Palestinian schoolteacher, becomes deranged after most of her class is accidentally killed by a missile fired from an Israeli gunship. She begins a strange ritual, throwing stones at the “security barrier,” the eight-meter tall concrete wall that separates much of the West Bank from Israel. She shouts the name of each dead child and hurls a stone at the concrete monolith. Initially alone, she is soon joined by others and her little ritual takes the form of a mass protest.
Naomi Shihab Nye (Palestinian, now in San Antonio, Texas)
You & Yours (2005)
Time You Let Me In : 25 Poets under 25 (Greenwillow, 2010)
Going Going (Greenwillow, 2005)
19 Varities of Gazelle, Poems of the Middle East (Greenwillow, 2002)
Flags of Childhood : Poems of the Middle East
The Space Between Our Footsteps : Poems and Paintings from the Middle East (Simon & Schuster, children’s list, 1998)
Come with Me : Poems for a Journey (Greenwillow, 2000)
Red Suitcase (poetry, BOA Editions, 1994)
Words under the Words
Baby Radar (Young Adult list, 2003)
Habibi (Simon & Schuster’s Young Adult list, 1997) – Palestinian-American doctor’s family relocates from the USA to the West Bank.
Sitti’s Secrets (Simon & Schuster’s Young Adult list, 1997)
….other non-Palestinian children’s books.
Matityahu Peled (relevant to Palestine in that the author was an Israeli General who became a Palestinian rights advocate and Professor of Arabic Literature at Tel Aviv University)
Religion, My Own : The Literary Works of Najib Mahfuz (New Brunswick New Jersey : Transaction Books, 1983)
Ayesha Ryder detective series (featuring a Palestinian-British academic historian as investigator) :
Ryder : Bird of Prey (Canada : HarperCollins, paperback/ Alibi, Kindle, 2015)
Ryder : American Treasure (Canada : HarperCollins, paperback/ Alibi, Kindle, 2015)
Ryder aka Traitor’s Gate (Canada : HarperCollins, paperback/ Alibi, Kindle, 2014)
Liston Pope, Jr.
Redemption : A Novel of War in Lebanon (author, 1994) Novel of the atrocities committed by the Phalangist militias after the fall of Tal El-Zaatar. From Publisher’s Weekly : “Pope’s first novel is a harrowing, intense account of Lebanon’s civil war of 1975-1976 and its bloody aftermath, focusing on the personal dimensions of the tragedy. Sent to Lebanon in 1978 as a correspondent for the World Council of Churches, the author spent more than a year in that ravaged country, including a stint living in a Palestinian refugee camp. Two figures dominate the novel. The more convincing of the two, Elie, a Maronite Catholic and Phalangist soldier, becomes disillusioned with his colleagues’ wanton brutality. After criticizing them for paying lip service to the Palestinian cause while depriving Palestinian refugees of basic rights, he is labeled a traitor. The other, Morgan, seems more a staple of slick espionage thrillers. A blonde and icy Radcliffe graduate, she’s a former Manhattan prostitute turned CIA agent who’s working with the Israelis on the eve of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. Other characters are more original, however, and Pope’s kaleidoscopic narrative, which ranges from underground clinics to refugee camps and torture chambers, scorchingly evokes the anarchy, mass slaughter and pervasive suffering of a nation torn apart by war.” Noam Chomsky : “I read it in two evenings. This book is a striking testimony.”
Borderlife aka All the Rivers (Serpent’s Tail, 2016/ 2017) Jewish-Israeli woman and Arab-Palestinian man fall in love in New York City. Banned by the Israeli Ministry of Education from the high school curriculum.
The Arab in Israeli Literature (Indiana University Press, 1989) – Note : non-fiction about fiction.
The ‘Omar Yussef’ mystery series : (featuring a school teacher-sleuth who solves murders while dodging both the guilty parties and the PA)
The Fourth Assassin (Soho Press, NYC, 2008, and Atlantic/Grove, 2010)
The Samaritan’s Secret (Soho Press, NYC, 2008, and Atlantic/Grove, 2009)
A Grave in Gaza (Soho Press, NYC, 2008; as The Saladin Murders, Atlantic/Grove, 2008)
The Bethlehem Murders (Atlantic/Grove, 2007; as The Collaborator of Bethlehem,Soho Press, NYC, 2006)
Diary of a Jewish Muslim (translated by Sarah Enany; American University in Cairo Press, 2014) Identity drama, set 1930s-1960s.
Days in the Diaspora (translated by Sarah Enany; American University in Cairo Press, 2012) Jewish Egyptian’s exile to Paris in the 1960s.
Checkpoint (AuthorHouse, 2008) This reflects the modern struggle between Jewish American rejection of the Aliyah promise, but, unlike some novels, the Palestinians get voices too.
Modern Arab American Fiction : A Reader’s Guide (Syracuse University Press, 2011) Introduction — Uses of the Lebanese Civil War in Arab American fiction: Etel Adnan, Rawi Hage, Patricia Sarrafian Ward — Exploring Islam(s) in America: Mohja Kahf — Sex, violence, and storytelling: Rabih Alameddine — The eternity of immigration: Arab American short story collections (Joseph Geha, Frances Khirallah Noble, Evelyn Shakir, Susan Muaddi Darraj) — Promised lands and unfulfilled promises: Laila Halaby — Crescent moons, jazz music, and feral ethnicity: Diana Abu-Jaber — From the Maghreb to the American mainstream: writers of North African origin (Anouar Majid, Laila Lalami, Samia Serageldin) — Potpourri: Alicia Erian, Randa Jarrar, Susan Abulhawa.
Season of Migration to the North (translated by Denys Johnson-Davies; Heinemann, 1969 / Penguin 2003) Not Palestinian, but deals with exile and a novel more important for what it’s about than how it actually reads, for the narrative is a bit of a bodge and unrealistic. The duality theme is both the poisoned embrace of the exotic by Orientalist British and a man’s spiteful and futile rejection of Western culture. A widely-respected classic, but it might’ve been a great book. The following review from Publisher’s Weekly is accurate but doesn’t really get the essence  :
“One of the classic themes followed in this complex novel, translated from the Arabic, is cultural dissonance between East and West, particularly the experience of a returned native. The narrator returns from his studies in England to his remote little village in Sudan, to begin his career as an educator. There he encounters Mustafa, a fascinating man of mystery, who also has studied at Oxford. As their relationship builds on this commonality, Mustafa reveals his past. A series of compulsive liaisons with English women who were similarly infatuated with the “Black Englishman,” as he was nicknamed, have ended in disaster. Charged with the passion killing of his last paramour, Mustafa was acquitted by the English courts. As he unravels his complicated, gory and erotic story, Mustafa charges the listener with the custody of his present life. When Mustafa disappears, apparently drowned in the Nile and perhaps a suicide, another door in his secretive life opens to include his wife and children. Emerging from a constantly evolving narrative, in a trance-like telling, is the clash between an assumed worldly sophistication and enduring, dark, elemental forces. An arresting work by a major Arab novelist who mines the rich lode of African experience with the Western world.”
The Tables Outlived Amin 1944-1992. journalist, editor, writer. Short story collections : The Tables Outlived Amin (1981) and In the Swamp City (1973); see also the Jo Glanville-edited short story compilation : Qissat : Short Stories by Palestinian Women (2006)
Nevien Shaabneh (Palestinian-American author and teacher)
Secrets under the Olive Tree (Santa Ana, California : Nortia Press, 2015) Publisher’s blurb : “Layla Anwar is a young Palestinian born into a land plagued with an apartheid regime. She knows all too well what it means to be an outcast in a country she calls home. Layla is also an outsider within her village and family. Whispers surround her growing up, ones that mask the secrets her family has kept for generations. Secrets continue to plague Layla’s adolescence and young adult life after the move to America, as the monsters of her past threaten to break the relationships she most cherishes. Layla uncovers the unholiest of secrets on her path to redemption and discovers the truth of her family’s history.”
Hebron Stories – edited by Moshe Lazar & Joseph Zernik (Lancaster, California : Labyrinthos, 2000)
Arabesques (Viking, 1988) translated from Hebrew by Vivian Eden.
Story of Zahra (Lebanese, translated by Peter Ford; Quartet Books & Readers International, 1986).
Crazed but not exactly a family comedy, set in Beirut and North Africa. When young Zahra isn’t being abused by everyone, she’s torturing herself. Then the civil war. The Palestinians are only referred to briefly, but they were never a real reason for those brutal years, only victims.
Occupied (author, 2015) – Hailed as a dystopian novel with relevance to Palestinians.
May God Keep Love in a Cool and Dry Place b. Palestine 1974.
Touch (Translated from the Arabic by Paula Haydar, Clockroot / Interlink, 2010) A young woman, asked at work to write a letter to an older man, does as she is told. So begins an enigmatic but passionate love affair conducted entirely in letters. A love affair? Maybe. Until his letters stop coming. Or… maybe the letters do not reach their intended recipient? Only the teenage Afaf, who works at the local post office, would know. Her favorite duty is to open the mail and inform her collaborator father of the contents—until she finds a mysterious set of love letters, apparently returned to their sender.
In the hands of Adania Shibli, the discovery of these letters makes for a wrenching meditation on lives lived ensnared within the dictates of others.
We Are All Equally Far from Love Translated from the Arabic by Paul Starkey; Northampton, Massachusetts : Interlink, 2004) “This novella is a challenging read; not because of Ms. Shibli’s sparing style of writing, which is strikingly different from the traditional Arabic style and quite riveting, but because of the intensely difficult insight it gives on the minutiae of the lives’ of others…We Are All Equally Far from Love is not a book to be picked up and put down…[it] demands to be read…”—New York Journal of Books. Adania Shibli, born in 1974 in Palestine, is two-time winner of the Qattan Foundation’s Young Writer’s Award for this and her acclaimed novel Touch. Paul Starkey is head of the Arabic department at Durham University, England. He is the author of Modern Arabic Literature and a prolific translator.
Mordechai’s Moustache and His Wife’s Cats, and Other Stories (Banipal Publishing, 2007) Mahmoud Shukair’s first major publication in English translation enthralls, surprises and even shocks as one of the world’s most original of storytellers excels in exposing the surreal moments in the ordinary and the mundane, the limits of human frustration and patience. Brimming with humor that ranges from the funny and the farcical, to satire and black comedy, with a painter’s eye for color and detail, Shukair’s stories present a unique commentary on the power of human imagination to see beyond the particular. Mahmoud Shukair has been a prodigious creator of short stories since the mid-1960s. Born in 1941 in Jerusalem and growing up there, he studied at Damascus University and has an MA in Philosophy and Sociology (1965). He worked for many years as a teacher and journalist, was editor-in-chief of a weekly magazine, Al-Talia’a [The Vanguard] 1994-96, and then of Dafatir Thaqafiya [Cultural File] magazine 1996-2000. He has been jailed twice by the Israeli authorities, for an overall period of nearly two years, and in 1975 was deported to Lebanon. He returned to Jerusalem in 1993 after living in Beirut, Amman and Prague. He has authored 25 books – nine short story collections, 13 books for children, a volume of folktales, a biography of a city, and a travelogue. He has written six series for television, three plays, and countless newspaper and magazine articles. Some of his short stories have been published in French, Spanish, Korean and Chinese, as well as English. Mahmoud Shukair has been a prodigious creator of short stories since the mid-1960s. Born in 1941 in Jerusalem and growing up there, he studied at Damascus University and has an MA in Philosophy and Sociology (1965). He worked for many years as a teacher and journalist, was editor-in-chief of a weekly magazine, Al-Talia’a [The Vanguard] 1994-96, and then of Dafatir Thaqafiya [Cultural File] magazine 1996-2000. He has been jailed twice by the Israeli authorities, for an overall period of nearly two years, and in 1975 was deported to Lebanon. He returned to Jerusalem in 1993 after living in Beirut, Amman and Prague. He has authored 25 books – nine short story collections, 13 books for children, a volume of folktales, a biography of a city, and a travelogue. He has written six series for television, three plays, and countless newspaper and magazine articles. Some of his short stories have been published in French, Spanish, Korean and Chinese, as well as English.
Jehan Bseiso (Doctors without Borders)
As co-editor, with Omar Robert Hamilton : This is Not a Border : Reportage & Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature (Bloomsbury, 2017). Marking the 10th anniversary of the Festival; contributions from: Susan Abulhawa, Suad Amiry, Victoria Brittain, Jehan Bseiso, Teju Cole, Molly Crabapple, Selma Dabbagh, Mahmoud Darwish, Najwan Darwish, Geoff Dyer, Yasmin El-Rifae, Adam Foulds, Ru Freeman, Omar Robert Hamilton, Suheir Hammad, Nathalie Handal, Mohammed Hanif, Jeremy Harding, Rachel Holmes, John Horner, Remi Kanazi, Brigid Keenan,Mercedes Kemp, Omar El-Khairy, Nancy Kricorian, Sabrina Mahfouz, Jamal Mahjoub, Henning Mankell, Claire Messud, China Miéville, Pankaj Mishra, Deborah Moggach, Muiz, Maath Musleh, Michael Palin, Ed Pavliç, Atef Abu Saif, Kamila Shamsie, Raja Shehadeh, Gillian Slovo, Ahdaf Soueif, Linda Spalding, William Sutcliffe & Alice Walker.
In the Eye of the Sun (Bloomsbury, 1999) – Egypt focus but includes Palestine.
Abraham’s Children (Kuala Lumpur : The Other Press, 2013). This is the story of Fida, who sets out on a journey to the Occupied Territories. It is not only a novel about tragedy, discovery and love; it is also a story that delves into the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Moving between England, the West Bank and Gaza, the unfolding events, while fictional, reveal an authentic reality that is based on actual events. An engaging read that’s oddly appropriate for readers new to the Palestine struggle and those who think they know all about it already (you can’t). The resolve and humour of occupied Palestinians shines throughout.
Bitter Almonds (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation, 2016) Set in refugee community in Damascus.
Mohammad Ali Taha
‘A Rose to Hafeeza’s Eyes’ and other Stories – translated by Jamal Assadi (Peter Lang Publishing, 2008)
Basima Takrouri (b. Jerusalem 1982.)
Tales from the Azzinar Quarter, 1984-1987 Novel : Seat of the Absent (2001), Salma’s Plan (children’s book, 2002), Diaries under the Occupation (2004)
The Lemon Tree (Black Swan, 2008)
Jemma Wayne (novelist and playwright, former Jewish Chronicle journalist)
Chains of Sand (Legend Press, 2016) – Novel that displays both the lure of Israel to some disaffected Jews living in the West, and the social problems within the Jewish Israeli society.
Utopia (translated by Chip Rossetti) (Bloomsbury/Qatar, 2009, 2011) Author regarded as sci-fi. Some may find this unchallenging, despite the worthy plot of quasi-Israel in Egypt.
Jonathan Wilson (Tufts University)
A Palestine Affair (Pantheon, 2003) Loyalty and betrayal amongst non-Palestinians under the Mandate in 1924.
A Lake Beyond the Wind -translated by May Jayyusi and Christopher Tingley from the original novel, published Beirut : Dar Al-Adab, 1991 (Northampton, Massachusetts : Interlink, 1999, 2003). The Nakba crawls across the pages as the Arab Liberation Army and the wider Palestinian community grind to a sad halt, then into exile. References to Al-Haj Amin, al-Kawuqji, and Glubb Pasha reinforce the historical record but aren’t crucial to the narrative. Publisher’s 2003 blurb : “Yakhlif tenderly gathers all the town folk, the soldiers of the beleaguered army, the animals and the natural world into his tale, which makes it all the more powerful a lament for a world that is no more. Yahya Yakhlif was born in Samakh in 1944 and has lived as a refugee for most of his life.”
The Road from Damascus (Hamish Hamilton, 2008) Emotional and bi-cultural baggage sinks a young man who shuns London’s advantages, in this story by an author who can really write.
The Liberated Bride (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003; Harvest Books 2004) Professor Yohanan Rivlin has two obsessions, the first and most ambitious, is to understand the Arab mind – no mean feat in itself though perhaps made easier by the fact that he lives and works with Israeli Arabs. The second – and more personal, though equally hard to grasp – is to understand the failure of his elder son’s marriage. Rivlin’s two quests lead him to extraordinary – and at times highly entertaining – encounters with very disparate people, where the personal becomes intertwined with the political, as he searches out the truth both in politics and life. Recommended by Prof. Ilan Pappé.
S. Yizhar (Yizhar Smilansky)
Khirbet Khizeh (translated by Nicholas de Lange & Yaacob Dweck; Granta Books, 2011)
Published in Hebrew in 1949 but, strangely, not translated into English until 60 years later. This is the first work of fiction to address the Nakba, and written, despite stereotype and condescension, from a regretful Israeli soldier’s point of view. Edition with an afterword by David Shulman.
Iman Humaydan Younes
Wild Mulberries (translated by Michele Hartman; Arabia Books, 2010)
Samir el-Youssef [London author, born in Rashidia camp in Lebanon]
The Illusion of Return (Halban Books, 2007)
Samir El-Youssef & Etgar Keret
Gaza Blues (short stories, David Paul Books, 2004)
Yasmine Zahran (archeologist & novelist)
The Golden Tail (Gilgamesh Publications, 2017) – Cats.
See also OLDER PALESTINE HISTORY
Azazeel (Translated by Jonathan Wright; Atlantic Books, 2012). Set in the 5th century AD, Azazeel is the exquisitely crafted tale of a Coptic monk’s journey from Upper Egypt to Alexandria and then Syria during a time of massive upheaval in the early Church. Winner of the Arab Booker Prize, Azazeel highlights how the history of our civilization has been warped by greed and avarice since its very beginnings and how one man’s beliefs are challenged not only by the malice of the devil, but by the corruption with the early Church. In sparse and often sparkling prose that reflects the arid beauty of the Syrian landscape, Azazeel is a novel that forces us to re-think many of our long-held beliefs and invites us to rediscover a lost history.
A Bottle in the Gaza Sea (Bloomsbury, 2008) – Romeo and Juliet set in Gaza and Israel; aimed at teenagers.
When I Was a Soldier (Bloomsbury, 2007) – Author’s memoir of service in the IDF; aimed at teenagers.
Amir Nizar Zuabi (playwright & director, with the Royal Shakespeare Company, El Hakawati, etc.)
Oh My Sweet Land : A Love Story from Syria (Bloomsbury, 2014)- Drama of Syrian civil war refugees; produced at the Young Vic, London.
The Beloved (Methuen Drama, 2012) Co-production by Palestinian theatre company ShiberHur with the Bush Theatre and KVS Brussels.
I am Yusuf and This is My Brother (Methuen Drama, 2010) – 1948 setting.
Short Story Compilations :
Faris Glubb (translator)
Stars in the Sky of Palestine : Short Stories (Beirut : Foreign Information Department, Palestine Liberation Organization, 79pp, 1978) The author, a convert to Islam, also writes under the name Faris Yahya. Contents: T. Fayyad : The Mare / Y. Rabah : The Sea Became Blue / W. Rabah : Inscriptions on the Wall of the Cell / Y. Iraqi : Diary of a Doctor in Tal al Zaatar / R. Abu-Shawar : The Ancestors / M. Labadi : The Room of the Roof / Y. Rabah : When it Pours with Rain / Faris Glubb : The Return / Y. Yakhluf : Arabi the Oppressed / R. Abu Shawar : The Stranger’s Return
Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad and Ahmed Khan, editors
A Mosque Among the Stars [Islamic Sci-Fi short stories] (Canada : ZC Books, 2008) Contents : Lucius Shepard [USA] : A Walk in the Garden / Tom Ligon [USA]: For a Little Price / Jetse De Vries [USA] : Cultural Clashes in Cadiz / Howard Jones [USA] : Servant of Iblis / Andrew Ferguson [UK] : Organic Geometry / Ahmed A. Khan: Synchronicity / Camille Alexa [USA] : The Weight of Space and Metal / G.W. Thomas [USA] : The Emissary / Kevin James Miller [USA] : A Straight Path Through the Stars / Pamela Kenza Taylor [USA] : Recompense / Casey June Wolf [USA] : Miss Lonelygenes / D.C. McMahon [Canada] : Squat
Refaat Alareer, editor
Gaza Writes Back : Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine(Charlottesville, Virginia : Just World Books, 2013) Gaza suffered especially during Israel’s phosphorus bombing of 2008-2009, ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ and the fifteen authors herein reflect that time :
Hanan Habashi : L for Life / Mohammed Suliman : One War Day / Rawan Yaghi :Spared
Nour al-Sousi : Canary / Sarah Ali : The Story of the Land / Sameeha Elwan : Toothache in Gaza / Nour Al-Sousi : Will I Ever Get Out? / Rawan Yaghi : A Wall / Nour El Borno :A Wish for Insomnia / Mohammed Suliman : Bundles / Refaat Alareer : On a Drop of Rain
Jehan Alfarra : Please Shoot to Kill / Yousef Aljamal : Omar X / Mohammed Suliman :We Shall Return / Rawan Yaghi : From Beneath / Wafaa Abu al-Qomboz : Just Fifteen Minutes
Refaat Alareer : House / Tasnim Hamouda : Neverland / Elham Hilles : Lost at Once
Tasnim Hamouda : It’s My Loaf of Bread / Shahd Awadallah : Once Upon a Dawn / Refaat Alareer : The Old Man and the Stone / Aya Rabah : Scars
Jo Glanville, editor
Qissat : Short Stories by Palestinian Women (Telegram, 2006)
Randa Jarrar : Barefoot Bridge / Huzama Habayeb : A Thread Snaps / Liana Badr : Other Cities / Selma Dabbagh : Me (the Bitch) and Bustanji / Basima Takrouri : Tales from the Azzinar Quarter / Nuha Samara : The Tables Outlived Amin / Jean Said Makdisi : Pietà / Donia el-Amal Ismaeel : Dates and Bitter Coffee / Naomi Shahib Nye : Local Hospitality / Raeda Taha : A Single Metre / Laila al-Atrash : The Letter / Samah al-Shaykh : At the Hospital / Adania Shibli : May God Keep Love in a Cool and Dry Place / Nathalie Handal : Umm Kulthoum at Midnight / Simira Azzam : Her Tale
Nibal Thawabteh : My Shoe Size and Other People’s Views on the Matter!
Salma Khadra Jayyusi, editor
Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature (Columbia University Press, 1992)
52 poets in translation, 14 Palestinian poets writing in English, short stories from 25 authors, selections from 2 novels, plus extracts from 6 personal accounts, all in 745 pages.
Denys Johnson-Davies, editor
Modern Arabic Short Stories (Oxford University Press, 1967). Contents : Farahat’s Republic, by Yusuf Idris / The Dead Afternoon, by Walid Ikhlassi / The Dream, by Abdel Salam al-Ujaili / The Death of Bed Number 12, by Ghassan Kanafani / Sundown, Shukri Ayyad / The Dying Lamp, Fouad Tekerli / The Man and the Farm, by Yusuf Sharouni / The Lost Suitcase, by Abdel-Moneim Selim / The Doum Tree of Wad Hamid, by Tayeb Salih / Mother of the Destitute, by Yahya Hakki / The Picture, Latifa el-Zayat / Miracles for Sale, by Tewfik al-Hakim / The South Wind, by Abdel Malik Nouri / A Space Ship of Tenderness to the Moon, by Laila Baalabaki / Zaabalawi, Nagib Mahfouz / The Gramophone, by Jabra Ibrahim Jabra / A House for My Children, by Mahmoud Diab / Summer Journey, by Mahmoud Teymour / The Election Bus, by Touma al-Khouri / Summer, by Zakaria Tamer
Chief Complaint : A Country Doctor’s Tales of Life in Galilee (Charlottesville, Virginia : Just World Books, 2015) Short stories based on his earlier, non-fiction work, A Doctor in Galilee.
Susan Atefat Peckham
Talking Through the Door : An Anthology of Contemporary Middle Eastern American Writing – with foreword by Lisa Suhair Majaj (Syracuse University Press, 2014)
Atef Abu Saif, editor
The Book of Gaza (Comma Press, 2014) Authors : Atef Abu Saif, Abdallah Tayeh, Talal Abu Shawish, Mona Abu Sharekh, Najlaa Ataallah, Ghareeb Asqalani, Nayrouz Qarmout, Yusra al Khatib, Asmaa al Ghul & Zaki al ‘Ela. Publisher’s description : Under the Israeli occupation of the ’70s and ’80s, writers in Gaza had to go to considerable lengths to ever have a chance of seeing their work in print. Manuscripts were written out longhand, invariably under pseudonyms, and smuggled out of the Strip to Jerusalem, Cairo or Beirut, where they then had to be typed up. Consequently, fiction grew shorter, novels became novellas, and short stories flourished as the city’s form of choice. Indeed, to Palestinians elsewhere, Gaza became known as ‘the exporter of oranges and short stories’.
This anthology brings together some of the pioneers of the Gazan short story from that era, as well as younger exponents of the form, with ten stories that offer glimpses of life in the Strip that go beyond the global media headlines; stories of anxiety, oppression, and violence, but also of resilience and hope, of what it means to be a Palestinian, and how that identity is continually being reforged; stories of ordinary characters struggling to live with dignity in what many have called ‘the largest prison in the world’.
Related analysis :
Modern Palestinian Literature and Culture (Frank Cass, 1999 / Routledge, 2013) Focus on literature, rather than other arts, with welcome stopping points, such as “Where do Israeli-Arab Writers Publish / Write About?” Includes the quest for Palestinian identity within Israel, choices of language, the literature of the first Intifada, Jerusalem, and numerous authors such as Emile Habibi.
Barbara McKean Parmenter
Giving Voice to Stones : Place and Identity in Palestinian Literature (University of Texas Press, 1994)
Related interest :
Whatever Happened to Antara, and Other Syrian Short Stories – translated by Asmahan Sallah (University of Texas Press, 2004)
M.J.L. Young, editor – translation by Michel G. Azrak
Modern Syrian Short Stories (Boulder, Colorado : Lynne Rienner, 131pp, 1988 / 1992)
Ghassan Zaqtan (born Beit Jala, Director of the Literature section of the Palestinian Ministry of Culture)
Where the Bird Disappeared (Seagull Books, 2018)
Describing the Past (Seagull Books, 2016) Translated by Samuel Wilder, with a foreword by Fady Joudah; originally published in Arabic, 1995. Novella set in Karameh Camp. Fady Joudah translated Zaqtan’s Like a Straw Bird, it Follows Me, and Other Poems (Yale University Press, 2012)