Must-Read Palestinian Literature

This list is probably not for those looking to “understand” Palestine (or today’s aggression against a humanitarian-aid flotilla), but for those who want to celebrate or appreciate Palestinian arts, or for those who just love good books.

After all, Palestinians are—among other things—book-writers, book-readers, poetry-lovers, party-goers.

On the other hand, perhaps these are books you should buy for your mom, your boss, your pharmacist.

Mahmoud Darwish, Memory for Forgetfulness: Recommended by acclaimed poet and novelist Sinan Antoon and journalist Ursula Lindsay.

Ghassan Kanafani, Men in the Sun: Recommended by author and teacher Laila Lalami, professor and critic Nouri Gana, and professor/translator Hosam Aboul-Ela.

Mourid Barghouti, I Saw Ramallah: Recommended by author and teacher Laila Lalami, translator Maia Tabet, AUC editor Neil Hewison.

Elias Khoury, Gate of the Sun: Not by a Palestinian, but written about Palestine by the Lebanese author Elias Khoury. Recommended by translator Humphrey Davies and Read Kutub coordinator Katrina Weber.

Emile Habibi’s Said the Pessoptimist, recommended by translator and professor Aida Bamia, translator Maia Tabet, Katrina Weber.

Sahar Khalifeh’s The Image, the Icon, and the Covenant, recommended by Dr. Bamia

Also, on the topic of “books about Palestine you can get for your mom,” Katrina Weber’s mom likes Matt Rees’s crime novels, which are set in Palestine.

Additional recommendations from ArabLit:

The First Well: A Bethlehem Boyhood, by Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, who was born in Palestine and moved to Iraq after the 1948 Nakba.

Touch, by Adania Shibli, just out from Interlink. A gorgeous novella from a young Palestinian author Ahdaf Soueif says is the “most talked about” writer on the West Bank.

Nothing to Lose But Your Life, out last month from the madwoman memoirist Suad Amiry. This is more reportage than literature, but it’s crazy and eye-opening and often amusing.

Feel free to add your own.