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 Soueif– The Map of Love (historical)
Ahlam Mosteghanemi– Memory in the Flesh (historical)
Ahmed Saadawi– Frankenstein in Baghdad (horror/contemporary)
Alia Mamdouh– Naphtalene (historical)
Assaf Gavron– The Hilltop and Almost Dead (contemporary)
Elif Shafak– The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love (contemporaries) and The Architect’s Apprentice (historical)
Hanan al-Shaykh– The Story of Zahra and Women of Sand and Myrrh (contemporary)
Khaled Hosseini– The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns and And the Mountains Echoed (contemporary)
Laila Lalami– The Moor’s Account (historical) and Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (contemporary)
Miral al-Tahawy– The Tent and Brooklyn Heights (contemporary)
Orhan Pamuk– My Name is Red (historical) and Snow (contemporary)
Rabih Alameddine– An Unnecessary Woman (contemporary)
Radwa Ashour– The Woman from Tantoura (contemporary)
Raja’a Alem– The Dove’s Necklace (mystery)
Rajaa al-Sanea– Girls of Riyadh (contemporary)
Randa Abdel-Fattah– Does My Head Look Big in This? and The Lines We Cross (teen)
Randa Jarrar– A Map of Home (contemporary)
Saladin Ahmed– Throne of the Crescent Moon (sci-fi)
Shahriar Mandanipour– Censoring an Iranian Love story (contemporary)
Susan Abulhawa– Mornings in Jenin (historical/contemporary) and The Blue Between Sky and Water (contemporary)
Wajdi al-Ahdal– A 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!