Includes novels, short fiction and literary criticism
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)
Mornings in Jenin
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.
Radwa Ashour (Egyptian)
The Woman from Tantoura : Palestinian Novel
translated by Kay Heikkinen (American University in Cairo Press, 2013)
(translated by Barbara Romaine; Bloomsbury Qatar, 2013)
translated by Barbara Romaine (Arabia, 2010)
Arab Women Writers : A Critical Reference Guide, 1873-1999
(American University in Cairo Press, 2008)
translated by William Granara (Syracuse University Press, 2003)
Gharib Asqalani, Huzama Habayeb, Akram Haniyya & Mahmoud Shukair
Edited and translated by Jamal Assadi
Torn Body, One Soul : A Collection of Palestinian Short Fiction
Bloomington, Indiana : iUniverse, 2012
Majed Atef [Ramallah & Jersalem]
‘The Fates of the Others’, short story translated by Issa J. Boullata, in Banipal 45 (2012)
Laila al-Atrash [Jordan]
A Day Like any Other (short stories, 1991)
Sunrise from the West (1988)
A Woman of Five Seasons
A Woman of Five Seasons
translated by Nora Nweihid Halwani and Christopher Tingley 5 1/4” x 8” • 208 pages
ISBN 9781566564168 • paperback • $12.95
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.
Ibtisam Azem [novelist, NYC television journalist]
The Sleep Thief : Ghareeb Haifawi, two chapters translated by Sally Gomaa, in Banipal 45 (2012)
Samira Azaam [Jaffa, now West Bank]
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.
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)
Probably the first Arabic novel to have a gay man as the central character.
Eyad Barghuthy [Acre resident]
‘A Fateful Meal’, short story translated by John Peate, in Banipal 45.
Raji Bathish [poet + five collections of short stories, not in English]
‘Nakba Lite’, short story translated by Suneela Mubayi, in Banipal 45 (2012)
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.
Sami Shalom Chetrit
Moroccan Israeli (Mizrahi) who tried to start a high school emphasising Arab Jewish heritage.
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
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. –AS
(Jo Fletcher Books, 2014)
An eco-dystopic take on religious settlers and demonising the others, arguably an allegory on Israeli Settlers’ messianic beliefs and their fear of Palestinians, and society’s self-censorship. -AS
Zeina B. Ghandour
(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.”
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
To the End of the Land
(Jonathan Cape, 2010)
Israeli epic novel includes power relations between Jews and Palestinians in Israel.
The Secret Life of Saeed, The Pessoptimist
(translated by Salma Khadra Jayyusi and Trevor LeGassick, Interlink Books, 2001 + other editions)
This contemporary 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’s own anger and sorrow at Palestine’s tragedy and his acquaintance with the absurdities of Israeli politics (he was once a member of Israel’s parliament himself) are here transmuted into satire both biting and funny. 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.
Emile Habiby was one of Israel’s best-known Arab journalists and writers. He has published several highly acclaimed novels and plays and his work has been translated into German, French, and Hebrew. Habiby died in 1998.
Salma Khadra Jayyusi is one of the Arab world’s most distinguished literary personalities and is widely known for her poetry and literary criticism.
Trevor LeGassick, scholar and professor of Arabic liteature at the University of Michigan, has translated many novels and edited an anthology of modern Arabic prose.
(Interlink books, 2013)
Flying Carpets is 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.
Mixed marriage novel of a Nakba exile finding a Jewish partner in 1960s London. Author has a UN and BBC World Service background.
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 & 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.
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
In Search of Walid Masoud : A Novel
translated by Roger Allen & Adnan Haydar (Syracuse University Press, 289pp, 2000)
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.
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).
Short story compendium, won AM Qattan Award (al-Ahliyya Publishers, Amman, 2010).
Unidentified short story in Awda : Imagined Testimonies from Possible Futures (Zochrot Press, Tel Aviv & Jaffa, 2013).
Mona N. Mikhail
Seen and Heard : A Century of Arab Women in Literature and Culture
6” x 9” • 288 pages • b&w photos
ISBN 9781566564632 • paperback • $15.00 •
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 Fictionand 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 documentaryLive Onstage: A Century and a Half of Theater in Egypt.
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
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.
Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories
(translated by Hilary Kilpatrick; Heinemann 1978 / Lynne Rienner Publishing, 1999)
Includes : Letter from Gaza (1956), The Land of Sad Oranges (1958), If You were a Horse and The Falcon (1961), A Hand in the Grave (1962) and Umm Saad (1969)
Sayed Kashua (Palestinian-Israeli author, contributor to Ha’aretz and writer of Israeli television sitcom, Arab Labor)
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)
Dancing Arabs (translated from Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger)
(Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press, 2004)
Let it be Morning (translated from Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger) (Atlantic Books, 2006/7)
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).
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 Stars Telegraph, Metro, Independent, Time Out Critics Choice) chronicle a hidden world of incarceration where imaginative resistance, strange escapades and unexpected betrayals have become the norm.
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.
(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. -AS
“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.”
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.
Sahar Khalifeh was born in Nablus in 1941 and is the author of eight novels. She holds a Ph.D. in women’s studies and American literature from the University of Iowa. She divides her time between Amman, Jordan and Nablus, Palestine.
The Inheritance (translated by Aida Bamia; American University in Cairo Press, 2005)
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 uninfluenced by their rival cultures). The message is blunt, and Khoury (The Journey of Little Gandhi, 1994, etc., not reviewed) indulges an unfortunate predilection for portentous rhetorical questions and flat authorial statement. But in the tale of Widad, a Circassian peasant girl who becomes the beloved wife of the wealthy merchant who “buys” her, he creates a stingingly dramatic tale–blessedly shorn of moralizing–that escapes, and far out-distances his novel’s essential preachiness.
(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.”
(1989; translated by Maia Tabet, MacLehose Press, 2010)
Little Mountain (translated by Maia Tabet with foreword by Edward Said; Carcanet, 1989)
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. – AS
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.
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. -AS
“Al-Madhoun brings Gaza vividly to life” – Selma Dabbagh
Will take you to the height of reading pleasure! – Elias Khoury
Ethel Mannin (1900-1984). [Of her almost 100 titles, these represent most of the London writer’s Arab period, in the 1960s, always with a Palestinian struggle focus.]
(Hutchinson, 1968) [settings : Palestine, Cairo, gay San Francisco; uses the American Zionist attack TV interview described in her American Journey]
The Night and its Homing
(Hutchinson, 1966) [fiction; Palestinian camp in Jordan]
The Road to Beersheba
(Hutchinson, 255pp, 1963) [fiction, still the ONLY novel of the Nakba in English]
I Am You : A Novel on Lesbian Desire in the Middle East
(translated by Samar Habib, unknown Palestinian relevance; Cambria Press, 2008)
Ibrahim Abdel Meguid / Al-Majid
[ All Egyptian settings – unknown Palestinian relevance ]
The House of Jasmine, 1970s-setting, first published in Arabic, 1984; translated by Noha Radwan
(Interlink Books, Northampton, Massachusetts, 155pp, 2012)
Birds of Amber, translated – (Suez War setting, American University in Cairo Press, 417pp, 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, 331pp, 1997)
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
Haneen Naamneh [Haifa & SOAS]
‘My Dear Sister’ and ‘Panado’l, two short stories translated by Ghenwa Hayek, in Banipal 45 (2012)
Tamara Naser [Palestinian from Toronto]
‘Superwoman’, short story translated by Suneela Mubayi, in Banipal 45 (2012)
Ibrahim Nasrallah (Palestinian author-poet-teacher-journalist-translator-painter…)
A Time of White Horses (زمن الخيول البيضاء / ابراهيم نصر الل, 2007)
Translated by Nancy Roberts (American University in Cairo Press, 634pp, 2012)
This gripping, comic-tragic, fictional-factual saga takes place in the environs of Jerusalem, from late Ottoman times to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Through the experiences of Hajj Mahmud, chief elder of al-Hadiya, his son Khalid and his beloved steed al-Hamama, and other memorable characters ranging from the heroic to the villainous, we relive the realities of the Palestinian village in the early twentieth century, Zionist colonization and its impact on Arab rural life, the trauma that accompanied the British mandate and its aftermath, the Palestinians’ struggle to maintain the autonomy and dignity they had known for centuries on end, and the beginnings of life under the Zionist state.
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.
The ‘Omar Yussef’ mystery series :
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)
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 [-AS] :
“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.”
Nuha Samara (1944-1992. journalist, editor, writer.)
Short story collections :
The Tables Outlived Amin (1981)
In the Swamp City (1973) – nothing in English?
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. -AS
Adania Shibli (b. Palestine 1974.)
May God Keep Love in a Cool and Dry Place [translated to English?]
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
[Kulluna Ba’eed Bethat al Miqdar ‘an al Hub, al-Adab, 2004]
published 2012 • 5 1/2″ x 7 3/4″ • 148 pages
ISBN 9781566568630 • paperback • $15.00
“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.
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 don’t). The resolve and humour of occupied Palestinians shines throughout. – AS
Tales from the Azzinar Quarter, 1984-1987
b. Jerusalem 1982. Novel : Seat of the Absent (2001), Salma’s Plan (children’s book, 2002), Diaries under the Occupation (2004) – nothing in English?
A Palestine Affair
Loyalty and betrayal under the Mandate in 1924.
A Lake Beyond the Wind
Translated by M. Jayyusi and C. Tingley
5 1/4″ x 8″ • 160 pages
ISBN 9781566563017 • paperback • $12.95
The year is 1948; the place, Samakh, a small town on Lake Tiberias, north of Jerusalem. People in Samakh are waiting — for what, exactly, they do not yet know. The whistle of the Haifa-Deraa train doesn’t sound anymore. Abd al-Karim, the shopkeeper, no longer goes into the city to buy new stock.
“You townspeople,” says Haj Mahmoud, leader of the fighters in the 1936 rebellion, “had better start digging trenches. There are dark days ahead.” A Lake Beyond the Wind is a novel about the most catastrophic year in Palestinian history, a time marked by violent clashes between Zionist forces and the volunteers of the Arab Liberation Army. 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. He is the author of several short story collections and three novels. This is the first of his novels to be translated into English.
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.
Khirbet Khizeh (translated by Nicholas de Lange & Yaacob Dweck; Granta Books, 2011)
Published in Hebrew in 1949, this is the first work of fiction to address the Nakba.
Iman Humaydan Younes
(translated by Michele Hartman; Arabia Books, 2010)
The Illusion of Return
(Halban Books, 2007)
Samir El-Youssef & Etgar Keret
(short stories, David Paul Books, 2004)
Translated by Jonathan Wright (Atlantic Books, 2012) – fiction on early church 30-600 AD.
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.
* * * Short Story Compilations * * *
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.
Forthcoming book of short stories by Palestinian doctor
(Charlottesville, Virginia : Just World Books, 2015)
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’.
A Mosque Among the Stars [Islamic Sci-Fi short stories]
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