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Celebrating Arab American Heritage Month

Every April, National Arab American Heritage Month is observed to recognize the rich history, tradition, and achievements of Arab American artists, writers, leaders, and more. This year, we’re celebrating with a list of our favorite titles by Arab American authors and Arab authors publishing in America. Moving from nineteenth-century Sudan to an Arabic production of Hamlet in Palestine to a Syrian refugee camp on Lesbos island, these five books showcase the diversity, community, resilience, and joy of Arab and Arab American culture.


River Spirit by Leila Aboulela

River Spirit is the spellbinding new novel from New York Times Notable Author and Caine Prize winner Leila Aboulela about an embattled young woman’s coming of age during the Mahdist War in nineteenth-century Sudan. Aboulela gives us the unforgettable story of a people who—against the odds and for a brief time—gained independence from foreign rule through their willpower, subterfuge, and sacrifice. This is a powerful tale of corruption, coming of age, and unshakeable devotion—to a cause, to one’s faith, and to the people who become family.

“A blazing historical epic of war, love, and revolution . . . A magnificent novel about the price of unwavering devotion and the inexhaustible pursuit for freedom.”—Los Angeles Review of Books


Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad

A stunning rendering of art and connection in present-day Palestine, Enter Ghost is a story of diaspora, displacement, and the connection to be found in family and shared resistance. Timely, thoughtful, and passionate, Isabella Hammad’s highly anticipated second novel is an exquisite feat, an unforgettable story of artistry under occupation.



“An Arabic language production of ‘Hamlet’ in the West Bank is the stage for this clear-eyed and vivid book, in which estranged sisters, hot-headed men, a zealous director, and a cast of actors work together in spite of their internal and external challenges to make art despite political strife.”—Boston Globe, Best Books of the Year


The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine

From National Book Award finalist Rabih Alameddine comes a transporting new novel about an Arab American trans woman’s journey among Syrian refugees on Lesbos island. Not since the inimitable Aaliya of An Unnecessary Woman has Alameddine conjured such a winsome heroine to lead us to one of the most wrenching conflicts of our time. The Wrong End of the Telescope is a bedazzling tapestry of both tragic and amusing portraits of indomitable spirits facing a humanitarian crisis.


“Spectacular . . . Alameddine’s irreverent prose evokes the old master storytellers from my own Middle Eastern home, their observations toothy and full of wit, returning always to human absurdity.”—New York Times Book Review


Palestine: A Personal History by Karl Sabbagh

In Palestine: A Personal History, Karl Sabbagh traces Palestine and Palestinians from their roots in the mélange of tribes, ethnic groups, and religions that have populated the region for centuries, and describes how, as a result of the interplay of global power politics, the majority of Palestinians were expelled from their home. Palestine offers a sympathetic portrait of the country’s rich heritage as well as evidence of the long-standing harmony between Arabs and the small indigenous Jewish population in Palestine, both a transporting narrative and a meditation on a region that remains a flashpoint of conflict.

“Carefully researched and engaging, his memoir offers a vital yet unfamiliar perspective on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a heartfelt, judicious invitation to dialogue.”—Publisher’s Weekly


Plus, we’re looking ahead to the fall with Recognizing the Stranger (out 9/24), a profound essay and new afterword on narrative turning points and the Palestinian struggle for freedom from Isabella Hammad, the award-winning author of The Parisian and Enter Ghost.

Recognizing the Stranger by Isabella Hammad

Isabella Hammad delivered the Edward W. Said Lecture at Columbia University nine days before October 7, 2023. The text of Hammad’s seminal speech and her afterword, written in the early weeks of 2024, together make up a searing appraisal of the war on Palestine during what feels like a turning point in the narrative of human history. Profound and moving, Hammad writes from within the moment, giving voice to the Palestinian struggle for freedom. Recognizing the Stranger is a brilliant melding of literary and cultural analysis by one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists and a foremost writer of fiction in the world today.

“Extraordinary and amazingly erudite. Hammad shows how art and especially literature can be much, much more revealing than political writing.”—Rashid Khalidi