In case you didn’t know, what with the whole global pandemic and everything, we’re right in the middle of Arab Heritage Month! In the U.S., April is dedicated to celebrating the rich history, culture and contemporary voices of Arabs and Arab Americans. And what better way to celebrate than with new reading material!
For the poets:
Water and Salt by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha’s debut collection of poetry, “Water and Salt” gives a voice for those (past, present and future) who have been forever marred by displacement from their home country. It explores loss, suffering and unimaginable pain, but also strength, defiance, resilience and determination. It’s a gorgeous collection of poetry and a forever recommendation.
For those who love fantasy:
The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhader
In Zeyn Joukhader’s debut novel, he takes readers on a beautiful journey that follows the parallel stories of Nour, a young Syrian girl who flees her homeland and travels across North Africa with her family, and Rawiya, a 12th-century adventurer who disguises herself as a boy in order to apprentice herself to a famous mapmaker.
For students of history:
Sitt Marie Rose by Etal Adnan
Sitt Marie Rose is one of those books that, once you start reading, you can’t put it down. Set before and during the Lebanese Civil War, the novel creates a split between West and East Beirut, Muslim and Christian, Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian, and explores how all of these variables interacted with one another during the Civil War. Adnan critiques sexism, xenophobia and the idea that a single person can speak for all the people in Lebanon.
For those who love the classics:
Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih
For the feminist:
Him Me and Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar
Randa Jarrar is a writer, memoirist, and comedian sharing her experience as a Muslim American born of Egyptian and Palestinian parents. SAnd she’s not only an incredible writer, but she’s a Michigan alum too! Her work is biting, funny, and brilliantly honest. If you end up falling in love with this collection of short stories, you should definitely check out her debut novel, A Map of Home.