Arab Literary Events This Fall in North America

I have been trying to put together a list of fall Arab and Arabic literary events for major U.S. and Canadian cities, as I did for the U.K. last week. I think it’s time to admit defeat. Or at least that I need help. Book festivals, apparently, are not the right place to look. Universities? Bookstores?


There’s always good-ol’ Alwan for the Arts in NYC, which will have “Solitaire,” a play about women and the Egyptian revolution, by Dalia Basiouny, on September 2. The play will be in Arabic with English subtitles.

Hisham Matar will be on BBC World Book Club talking about his first novel, In the Country of Men, on September 3. No, it’s not in the Americas, but Americans can listen. Besides, his second novel, Anatomy of a Disappearance, is just now being released in North America.

Matar is in the U.S. this September, promoting Anatomy Of A Disappearance. On September 6 at 7 p.m., he will be at the Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, DC.

Diana Abu-Jaber’s new book, Birds of Paradise, will be out this September.* She has various events beginning September 6; you can find them on her website.

The Brooklyn Book Festival will take place from September 15-18. Iraqi novelist and poet Sinan Antoon will be there, as well as Syrian-American author Alia Malek and Matar.

Washington DC’s “Fall for the Book” festival is September 18-23. Perhaps poet Nadine Sabra Meyer is Arab-American, although her bio doesn’t identify her as such.

My eyes were starting to glaze over, but I couldn’t find any Arab authors at the Baltimore Bookfestival September 23-25.

There’s the 2011 National Book Festival from September 24-25 on the National Mall. No Arab authors that I saw.

On September 29, the 2011 winners of the Arab American Book Awards will be honored in D.C. If you’d like to attend, you can RSVP online.

Initial releases about the New Yorker Festival (September 30-October 1) have come out; I haven’t seen any mention of Arab/Arabic-writing authors. However, Katrina of Read Kutub tells me that Hisham Matar will be part of an event on Friday the 30th , a panel called EXILE.


The preliminary lineup’s been announced for the International Festival of Authors, Oct 19-30. I’m sure I’m reading the list too quickly, but I don’t see any Arabs at the Harbourfront Center in Toronto, Ontario.

Then there’s the October 15 Boston Book Fest, but I couldn’t find any Arab/Arabic-writing authors.

I didn’t have the energy to go through all of San Francisco’s LitQuake. (Eight hundred and fifty authors; I just couldn’t.) I searched “Arab” and found: “Zoë Ferraris, author of City of Veils, lived in a conservative Muslim neighborhood in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Her novels are published in 30 countries. Her third novel, Kingdom of Strangers, will be out in February.”


First, Yemeni novelist Ali al-Muqri will be in NYC Sept 15, if you’d like to try to book him at your event. Second: Where should I be looking?

*Now that I think of it; where’s my review copy?


  1. As far as I know I am the only person in NYC who reads arablit, which is hard to come by. I get mine mostly by frequently checking review copies shelves at Housing Works Cafe Bookshop (mostly used books and a great place in every way!) and sometimes somebody donates a few. Takes a patient addict to find them.
    Alwan does a few readings, also Columbia Univ. A few other bookstores like the Strand do readings but have never seen any arablit. In this most cosmopolitan of cities, there is a well funded faction who protests anything
    arab like a mosque, teaching arabic in Brooklyn high school, flotillas to Gaza. Even Columbia U. Profs often have a very hard time. You may remember when Obama was running for president they found out he was friends with Rashid Khalidi at Univ of Chicago (now Edward Said chair at Columbia), and he was called a terrorist on every tv channel and Obama never defended him – just said he had only known him vaguely.
    A large study has just come out this week by Center for American Progress called “Fear, Inc. The roots of the Islamophobia Network in America” which goes into the whole story. I have printed it out but not read yet. It is perfectly clear to me where the problem lies and you can no doubt figure it out yourself.
    But bottom line is that arablit is just not around much in NYC and not of interest to many. Annual Pen World Voices usually has some. Besides yours my favorite internet spot is every Friday on an old retired prof from American U in DC named Charles R. Larson does a book review which is very frequently arab author. Thanks for what you do.

    1. Hrm. I would rather you have told me I was wrong. But thanks; illuminating and depressing. One of these days you’ll have to do us a guest post on reading Arabic literature in NYC…

      1. You’re not alone in reading Arab literature in NYC!! I’m just getting settled in, but am looking to join (or if there isnt one to be found, start) an English/Arabic book group similar to Kutub ( and would be happy to have a fellow reader to discuss arablit with. I’ll be checking with Alwan as they seem to be a likely partner. I’m sure there are more here than it seems at first!

Comments are closed.