Home 5 Articles and Reports 5 Arab Authors With Important Publications in 2023

Arab Authors With Important Publications in 2023

by | Dec 28, 2023 | Articles and Reports, Blog


River Spirit by Leila Aboulela

River Spirit is a mellifluous story that elucidates a period of Sudanese history in the final years of Ottoman rule. Set in the 1800s, young Akuany witnesses the relentless pillaging of her village.

The already dwindling power of the Ottoman Empire paved the way for the volatile Mahdist revolution. A man proclaims himself the Mahdi, a prophesied figure in Islam who is to redeem the Muslim world. He quickly begins to exploit the desperation of his people through violent manipulation.

His rise and fall are witnessed through Akuany’s eyes in Aboulela’s novel. She navigates her orphaned life amidst incessant plunder and weds a thoughtful and spiritual man while her country burns in the backdrop. Sudanese liberation, a nuanced and balanced depiction of Islam, and discernment of human complexity are threaded into the fabric of this novel, making it a profoundly rewarding experience.

An Unlasting Home, by Mai Al-Nakib

An Unlasting Home is an insightful novel focusing on the resilience of women in a society set up to fail them. This multigenerational saga oscillates between the stories of Kuwaiti philosophy professor Sara and her grandmothers, Yasmine and Lulwa, and her two mothers, Noura and Maria.

The novel spans from the 1920s to the present day, interweaving the regions of Lebanon, Iraq, India, the United States, and Kuwait. The book focuses on Sara and her current dilemma as a fired philosophy professor awaiting prosecution for blasphemous comments made during a lecture.

In 2013, the Kuwaiti parliament passed a law punishing blasphemy with execution. The tales of the women before her are those of failed aspirations due to war and patriarchy. But their strength resulted in Sara’s success.

The novel reveals the geopolitical forces of the Middle East, the unique lives of Muslim women, and the psychological ramifications of living in the diaspora.


History of Ash, by Khadija Marouazi

Khadija Marouazi debuts with her lyrical novel, History of Ash. The story of Mouline and Leila takes centre stage. Their perspectives and timelines shift throughout the book to illustrate the rampant corruption in the Moroccan judicial system.

Both arrested during Morocco’s “Years of Lead,” the reader bears witness to their survival under torture and harrowing prison conditions and their re-assimilation back to public life after their eventual release.

This era of Moroccan history is tainted with heavy state repression and unjust imprisonment of dissidents. The fictional tale of these characters vividly echoes the reality of this period. Marouazi is a human rights activist and a literature professor at Ibn Tofail University in Kenitra, Morocco.

Enter Ghost By Isabella Hamad

Enter Ghost is Hamad’s second novel, an evocative tale of Palestinian experience and exile. Sonia Nassir is a rising actress in Britain who returns to Palestine to visit her older sister, Haneen, to escape her chaotic love life. Longing for quiet contemplation, fate would have it that she joins a West Bank production of a classical Arabic translation and interpretation of Hamlet.

Despite spending years avoiding her homeland, this play reawakens her politically. She is forced to confront her family, heritage, and identity.

Written with acuity and enchanting prose, Sonia becomes acquainted with the various cast members and their lives in the West Bank. Through Sonia, the story examines the complex psychological impacts of living in a diaspora and displacement. It is a thoughtful and passionate portrait of present-day Palestine.

They Fell Like Stars from the Sky Palestine by Sheikha Helawy

They Fell Like Stars From The Sky comprises 18 short stories that animate the lives of Palestinian Bedouin women. Translated by Nancy Roberts, Helawy pulls the curtain on a rarely documented aspect of Palestinian life.

The rich, convoluted, and traditional lives in these villages are passionately revealed in the dynamism of these characters.

Each story is a mere few pages investigating the lives of adolescent girls coming to terms with their changing bodies’ minds, reckoning with the contradictory cultural restrictions inflicted upon them, all the while living under the shadow of Israeli occupation.

Evil Eye by Etaf Rum

The story of Yara, a young Palestinian-American woman, who is an art lecturer and mother who must confront the trauma of living a sheltered life in displacement. After reacting to a colleague’s racism, she is put on probation and mandated therapy.

Despite living under the family’s strict restrictions, she completed her education, forged a career, and started a family. Her family’s conservatism and superstitions come back to haunt her when her mother blames her situation on a family curse. This poignant novel explores multigenerational issues of trauma, misogyny, and complex mother-daughter dynamics.


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