British Writers In Support of Palestine

October 4, 2011

Palestinian Literature: A Short Reading List

New to the field of Palestinian literature?  This short list will get you started.  In future, titles will be added on a Page on this blog.


In Search of Fatima.  Ghada Karmi.  Verso, 2002.

This hugely successful account of how the author’s childhood in Jerusalem became, in 1948,  a lifetime in exile is much more than a gripping personal narrative.   All the major events of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are covered here, by a Palestinian woman who grew up in Golders Green, and from wanting nothing more than to ‘fit in’ with her new surroundings, become one of the world’s leading  commentators on Palestine.

Palestine: A Personal History.  Karl Sabbagh.   Grove Atlantic, 2006.

Sabbagh, whose father was the lead broadcaster for the BBC Arabic Service during WWII, here interweaves the literary and political history of Palestine, with his own family’s story, in particular his father’s experience during the partition of his country and creation of Israel.

Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape.  Raja Shehadeh.   (Profile Books 2008).

A moving and beautifully written account of the author’s walks in his native hills, spanning 27 years, and witnessing the devastating impact of illegal Israeli settlements on the people and the landscape of the West Bank.  Winner of the Orwell Prize 2008.

The Other Side of Israel.  Susan Nathan.  Harper Perennial 2006.

Nathan, a South African Jew who ‘returned’ to Israel to live, quickly became aware that Arabs in Israel were discriminated against in ways that echoed the treatments of Blacks under apartheid.  She chose to act in solidarity with Palestinians; this is her highly researched yet personal story of being a Jew living in an Arab town in Israel.


The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.  Ilan Pappe.  Oneworld Press, 2004.

A detailed, academic yet compassionate and very readable account by a leading Israeli historian of the founding of Israel.  Explains the history and ideology of the Zionist movement, and gives a month by month account of the ethnic cleansing of over 500 Palestinian villages, major towns and cities.

Married to Another Man.  Ghada Karmi.    (Pluto Press 2007).

Ghada Karmi is a medical doctor and a leading Palestinian writer.  This is her detailed, lucid and eloquent account of the impact of Israel on the Arab world, and its relationship with America and Europe.  The book is also a informed defense of the One State solution.

Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine.  Joel Kovel.    (Pluto Press 2007.)

The author is the Jewish American former leader of the US Green Party.  This book is a sustained critique of Zionism as ‘state-sponsored racism’, and a compelling argument for the One State solution.  The author has particular insights into the psychology of Zionism, and the state of denial that the ideology attempts to engender in Jews.

Palestine Inside Out.  Saree Makdisi.   (W.W. Norton.  2008).

The author, a Palestinian who grew up in Lebanon, is a professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA.  This is his highly articulate and informed account of the mistreatment of Palestinians within Israel; also his analysis of the failed peace process, during which Israel has never acknowledged the rights of the refugees it created in 1948.  Another educated plea for a One State solution.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights.  Omar Barghouti.   Haymarket Books.  2011.

The author, a dance choreographer turned key architect of the BDS movement, argues the case for the Palestinian global campaign to boycott Israeli goods, academia and culture; divest from Israeli institutions; and sanction the Israeli government.  Particularly good for artists to read, as it answers any questions you might have about cultural boycott.


In general,  BWISP highly recommends poetry by Mahmoud Darwish, Mourid Barghouti, Naomi Shehab-Nye, Suhair Hammad and Remi Kanazi.  Mini-reviews forthcoming!

Modern Poetry in Translation: Palestine [third Series of MPT, Number 9]

Still available on the MPT website.  A collection of poetry and essays on Palestine-Israel by a great range of Arab, Jewish and international writers.


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