For every literature-lover, food-eater, and beverage-drinker on your gift list:
🎁FOR THE BEVERAGE-DRINKER
Who doesn’t like a mug filled with teabags, pens, or sweets?
The Watan shop has three different Catfiyyeh mugs.
For all your gift-ees who listen to the Bulaq podcast (or who should listen to Bulaq); we have a Bulaq mug.
Not least, there are also a host of ArabLit Quarterly mugs, available through Gumroad.
🎁FOR THE BUTTON-WEARER
If you know someone who wears buttons, surely they’d love this Ghassan Kanafani button, from Watan.
🎁FOR THE BOOK-LOVER
Great books don’t necessarily make great gifts: I am not, for instance, suggesting you get your great aunt Khaled Khalifa’s Death is Hard Work (tr. Leri Price), unless you’re sure your great aunt would love a grim road-trip novel through contemporary Syria. Below, we have a risk-averse list of gift-book suggestions for a wide range of friends and family, from the beer-drinking Egyptophile to the medievalist foodie to the SFF fan.
BEER DRINKER + EGYPTOPHILE:
Egypt’s Beer: Stella, Identity, and the Modern State, Omar D. Foda (University of Texas Press, December 15, 2019)
All right, you’ll have to really like someone to get them an academic-priced book ($35 for the paperback), but if your special someone lived in Cairo and drank its beer, this book promises to “trace Egyptian history from 1880 to 2003 through the study of social, economic, and technological changes that surrounded the production and consumption of Stella beer in Egypt, providing an unparalleled case study of economic success during an era of seismic transformation. Delving into archival troves—including the papers of his grandfather, who for twenty years was CEO of the company that produced Stella—Omar D. Foda explains how Stella Beer achieved a powerful presence in all popular forms of art and media, including Arabic novels, songs, films, and journalism.”
JOURNALIST, FORMER JOURNALIST, OR JOURNALIST-IN-TRAINING:
Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting from the Arab World, ed. Zahra Hankir (Penguin, August 2019).
This book is a vital contribution to discussions about reporting, conflict reporting, hierarchies of relationships in reporting, and more; it’s particularly important as so many memoirs about conflict reporting — whether written by men or by women — are sharply masculinist. Editor Zahra Hankir, by contrast, allows the authors in Our Women on the Ground the space and freedom to express guilt and doubt, to write about their lives after journalism, to critique their newsrooms, and to break the wall of “objectivity” and discuss their complicated relationships with the people about whom they’re reporting.
MEDIEVALIST AND/OR FOODIE:
You should get them a medieval cookery book, of course. Either Nawal Nasrallah’s new translation of the fourteenth-century Egyptian cookbook Treasure Trove of Benefits and Variety at the Table (2018) or the thirteenth century Scents and Flavors: A Syrian Cookbook (2017), edited and translated by Charles Perry.
As for more contemporary cookbooks, Interlink Books has several new gorgeous ones, including Marlene Matar’s The Aleppo Cookbook and Joudie Kalla’s Palestine on a Plate: Memories from My Mother’s Kitchen.
If you really love your loved one, pair one of the cookbooks above with some hand-painted Khalili pottery from the Watan online gift shop.
SCIENCE FICTION FAN:
Palestine + 100, ed. Basma Ghalayini (Comma Press, July 25, 2019)
Contributors to this English PEN Award-winning collection are Selma Dabbagh, Anwar Hamed, Talal Abu Shawish, Tasnim Abutabikh, Emad El-Din Aysha, Samir El-Youssef, Saleem Haddad, Majd Kayyal, Mazen Maarouf, Abdalmuti Maqboul, Ahmed Masoud, and Rawan Yaghi, with translations by Raph Cormack, Mohamed Ghalaieny, Andrew Leber, Thoraya El-Rayyes, Yasmine Seale, and Jonathan Wright.
One of the things I really appreciate about this collection is that it all hangs together. The stories seem to talk to each other — raising issues, dealing with them in different ways, echoing and multiplying each other. You could also get it with Ibtisam Azem’s Book of Disappearance for maximum impact.
MOTHER AND/OR CHILD OF A MOTHER:
How to Mend: Motherhood and Its Ghosts, Iman Mersal, tr. Robin Moger
This slender book by Egyptian poet Iman Mersal is a perfect stocking stuffer for literary mothers. For those who are giving gifts to an Arabophone and have access, Iman Mersal’s “ في أثر عنايات الزيات” is sure to please any reader.
GET A PERSONALIZED SUGGESTION:
If none of these suit the gift-ee on your list, DM @arablit (with details about your gift-ee) for a personalized suggestion. Gift books to suit ages 0-100.
🎁FOR THE MAGAZINE-READER
If your gift-ee likes award-winning magazines🧿, then they’ll love:
🎁FOR SOMEONE WHO CARRIES THINGS
Tote bags are a must-gift for any bibliophile. If you have the funds, a bag + book is a fairly unbeatable gift.
You can also order one of four brilliant, limited-edition ArabLit Quarterly totes via ArabLit’s Gumroad store.
🎁FOR THE GRAPHIC NOVEL and ART PRINT AFICIONADO
Supporting independent publishing is a gift in itself, and Maamoul Press is a favorite graphic-novel shop. If your gift-ee reads Arabic, don’t miss Deena Mohamed’s Shubeik Lubeik. If your gift-ee prefers to move between languages, Rawand Issa’s Not From Mars comes with an English translation sheet.
It’s always worth checking which graphic novels are for sale in Mazen Kerbaj’s Etsy shop. Also, he notes, “you can ask the artist to make a dedication on the first page (free of charge, because the artist is a nice guy and likes his readers).”
🎁FOR THE CAT-LOVER
Over at Maamoul, you can find a print of “Cats” by Sana Masud.
You can find many more cat-related suggestions at our old post, “12 Reads: Looking for the Great Arabic Cat Story.”
🎁FOR THOSE WHO LOVE ONGOING PRESENTS (ARABIC & ENGLISH)
If you know someone who wants their children to have the gift of monthly books (and other goodies) in Arabic, hand-picked and curated, then ArabiKids starts at $20/month.
For English-language readers, THE ALIGNIST is a quarterly box subscription that promises to “deliver a literary adventure to your door.” Past quarters have included a brilliant Egypt box (with Donia Kamel’s Cigarette No. 7) and boxes from Colombia, Vietnam, and Nigeria.
🎁FOR THOSE WHO LOVE DONATIONS IN THEIR HONOR
We recommend choosing a book from Matloub: Library Books for Palestine.
🎁 FOR THE CAIRO-BASED SHOPPER
Proceeds from the NVIC Library book fair, set for December 3, 2019, will go to جمعية قلب كبير – Qalb Kabeer NGO, an organization that runs a literacy and arts program for children living on Dahab Island.
🎁….AND PERFECT PRE-ORDERS
Well, it does seem a little cheat-y, yes, but Lucie did make you a card to print out with it: