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Middle Eastern Authors- The Fiction Edition

Middle Eastern Authors- The Fiction Edition

Creating this list has been a bit of a challenge. Not because I couldn’t find anything, but because there are so many books I want to talk about.

I’ve also been struggling with my presentation. It’s important to me that the information I provide is accurate and inoffensive. In particular, I believe that language matters. I know that the phrase ‘The Middle East’ is, itself, controversial (here’s a quick rundown of why). The inclusion or omission of specific countries in this post is not intended as a political statement.

I’m also aware that many people think ‘Arab’, ‘Muslim’ and ‘Middle Eastern’ are synonyms. They definitely aren’t (this Quora thread sums it up nicely). As of right now, though, I can’t come up with a better list title. I’m open to suggestions and critique, so feel free to let me know if there’s a better term I should be using.

For the purposes of this list, I went with the broadest definitions possible. It’s definitely not all-inclusive, and I chose not to include poets. My intent is to publish a non-fiction list soon (fingers crossed). The links below will take you to information about each author. I’ve also included book titles, and (genres).

Ahdaf SoueifThe Map of Love (historical)

Ahlam MosteghanemiMemory in the Flesh (historical)

Ahmed SaadawiFrankenstein in Baghdad (horror/contemporary)

Alia MamdouhNaphtalene (historical)

Assaf GavronThe Hilltop and Almost Dead (contemporary)

Elif ShafakThe Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love (contemporaries) and The Architect’s Apprentice (historical)

Hanan al-ShaykhThe Story of Zahra and Women of Sand and Myrrh (contemporary)

Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns and And the Mountains Echoed (contemporary)

Laila LalamiThe Moor’s Account (historical) and Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (contemporary)

Miral al-TahawyThe Tent and Brooklyn Heights (contemporary)

Orhan PamukMy Name is Red (historical) and Snow (contemporary)

Rabih AlameddineAn Unnecessary Woman (contemporary)

Radwa AshourThe Woman from Tantoura (contemporary)

Raja’a AlemThe Dove’s Necklace (mystery)

Rajaa al-SaneaGirls of Riyadh (contemporary)

Randa Abdel-FattahDoes My Head Look Big in This? and The Lines We Cross (teen)

Randa JarrarA Map of Home (contemporary)

Saladin AhmedThrone of the Crescent Moon (sci-fi)

Shahriar MandanipourCensoring an Iranian Love story (contemporary)

Susan AbulhawaMornings in Jenin (historical/contemporary) and The Blue Between Sky and Water (contemporary)

Wajdi al-AhdalA Land Without Jasmine (mystery)

 

I hope this post inspires you to branch out, and try a new author. Please let me know if you think I should add anyone.

Happy reading, everyone!

 

Mini Book Review: Adrian and the Tree of Secrets

Mini Book Review: Adrian and the Tree of Secrets

The links below will take you to Amazon.com. Disclosure: LiteratureLynx is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This adds no additional cost to you.

Adrian and the Tree of Secrets by Hubert

Adrian and the Tree of Secrets by [Hubert]

Cover  blurb (from Amazon): “Adrian isn’t very happy these days. He lives in a small town and goes to a Catholic high school. He wears glasses, secretly reads philosophy books, and wishes he had more muscles. He’s dogged by a strict mother, bullied by fellow players on the soccer field, and chastised by the school principal, who considers gay rumors about Adrian as a sign that he is “ill.” But Jeremy, the coolest kid at school, thinks otherwise; he takes Adrian on scooter trips, where they end up in Jeremy’s secret treehouse stealing kisses. Adrian finds himself falling in love, until Jeremy’s girlfriend rats them out, sending Jeremy into a tailspin of embarrassment for being different than the rest. What will become of him?”

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I have to be honest with you- I don’t want to review this book.

Generally speaking, I try to provide balanced reviews. I always try to find both positive and negative things to say about any book I read. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, right? However, there are a few things I’d like to point out about this graphic novel.

**Spoiler alert/sensitive content warning** I don’t want to review this book because I’m incredibly angry about the ending. ‘Adrian and the Tree of Secrets’ deals with homophobia, rejection and suicide. Adrian’s fate is left open to interpretation, but it certainly looked like suicide to me. Sadly, this outcome is all too common- here are some statistics and resources if you’re interested. I understand that this narrative might be realistic, but I don’t think it sends a good message. The ending is not only insulting, it’s demoralizing and dangerous.**

**Francisco Tirado, a reviewer on Lambda Literary, says “this book is perhaps five to eight years too late. It seems to exist pre-”It Gets Better Project”… It offers no real consolation and chooses to make an exposé of oppression, rather than offering a solution to a problem.” I couldn’t agree more. I’m not one to shy away from depressing realism. Unhappy endings have literary value. This book, however, is simply bleak. It seems to present suicide as an acceptable option, which is extremely troubling.**

The only high point for me is the art. Marie Caillou’s illustrations are beautiful.

‘Adrian and the Tree of Secrets’ is worth analyzing from a literary standpoint. As general fiction, though, skip it.

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If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help.

U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, or visit their website.

The Trevor Project (focuses on LGBTQ+): 1-866-488-7386, or you can chat online through their website.

For anyone outside of the U.S., please visit this site for resources in your country/language.

 

 

 

LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels

LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels

LGBTQ+ Pride Month is upon us, and I’m in the mood for a graphic novel. Here are a few titles that caught my eye:

The links below will take you to Amazon.com. Disclosure: LiteratureLynx is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This adds no additional cost to you.

The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E.K. Weaver.

Cover Blurb (from Amazon): “E.K. Weaver’s critically-acclaimed road trip romance comic is collected here in this award-winning, commercially-successful omnibus edition. Less Than Epic tells the story of Amal (just out of the closet and freshly disowned by his parents) and TJ (a mysterious and eccentric vagrant) and their journey across the continental United States.”

Thoughts: I have a weakness for travel writing in general, but road-trip stories are my favorite. You know that saying “it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”? I freaking hate that saying. However, for road-trip stories, I’ll make an exception.

Kim & Kim Vol 1 by Magdalene Visaggio

Cover Blurb (from Amazon): “Kim & Kim are twentysomething besties out to make a name for themselves in the wild world of inter-dimensional cowboy law enforcement. In a massive “screw you” to their parents and the authorities, they decide to hijack some high stakes bounty ― and end up in way over their heads. A day-glo action adventure that’s bursting with energy and enthusiasm, it puts queer women and trans women front and center, with a story that embraces the absurd alongside realistic pathos.”

Thoughts: Inter-dimensional cowboy law enforcement already has me thinking about ‘Firefly,’ which I absolutely love. Add in diverse characters and an 80’s pop-punk vibe, and I absolutely can’t say no.

Intro to Alien Invasion by Owen King

Cover blurb (from Amazon): “Stacey, a brilliant, overachieving astrobiology major at Fenton College, had planned on just another lonely Spring Break on campus. But when a hurricane batters the small college town, downing power lines and knocking out cell phone reception, Stacey and her friends are stranded with no way to communicate with the outside world at the worst possible moment: in the midst of an alien invasion.

As space insects begin to burrow into students and staff, transforming them into slobbering, babbling monsters, a conglomeration of misfits must band together to prevent the infestation from spreading. Meanwhile, Stacey’s long-stifled romantic feelings for her friend Charlotte begin to surface, while the professor she had admired and respected becomes the students’ worst enemy.”

Thoughts: The world needs more college fiction, and science fiction needs more LGBTQ+ representation. Win-win. Plus, how freaking cute are those illustrations?

Wuvable Oaf by Ed Luce

Cover Blurb (from Amazon):Wuvable Oaf is the first-ever collection of the acclaimed self-published comic book series by cartoonist Ed Luce. Oaf is a large, hirsute, scary-looking ex-wrestler who lives in San Francisco with his adorable kitties and listens to a lot of Morrissey. The book follows Oaf ’s search for love in the big city, especially his pursuit of Eiffel, the lead singer of the black metal/queercore/ progressive disco grindcore band Ejaculoid. Luce weaves between the friends, associates, enemies, ex-lovers and pasts of both men into the story of their courtship. A romantic comedy at its core, Wuvable Oaf recalls elements of comics as diverse as Scott Pilgrim, Love and Rockets, and Archie, set against the background of San Francisco’s queer community and music scene.”

Thoughts: Gay ex-wrestler with kittens. Need I say more?

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Looking for more resources?

Check out my book lists featuring trans or non-binary characters. I have one list of books geared towards adults, and a separate list for kids and teens.

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Relevant LiteratureLynx reviews:

a + e 4ever– a graphic novel that tackles sex, friendship and gender labels

Blood, Marriage, Wine & Glitter– a collection of essays about what it means to be a family

The Thieves of Nottica– a steampunk sci-fi featuring an array of LGBTQ+ characters and themes

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If you’re looking for fiction or poetry, Wikipedia’s list of LGBT writers is actually pretty extensive.

If you’re looking for more graphic novel suggestions, try one of these lists:

LGBT Comics and Graphic Novels You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

10 LGBT Graphic Novels and Comics to Add to Your Summer Reading List

The Best LGBT Graphic Novels You Missed

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Have any other suggestions for me? Leave them in the comments!

Happy reading!