ArabLit’s 2022 Holiday Gift Guide

By ArabLit Staff

Nearly every year, we compile a list of end-of-year gift suggestions, from books to prints to music to dishware and more, all with some relationship to Arab and Arabic literatures and translation. Storefronts we have tested & recommend include Watan Palestine, Majnouna, Maamoul Press, and the ArabLit Quarterly Redbubble store.

Books for the translator, history buff, comix-lover, & more:

Books are always a great gift, although finding just the right gift book can be a challenge, especially for the avid and reluctant reader. We have a few suggestions.

Two books for people who appreciate chewing on serious ideas:

You Have Not Yet Been Defeated, by Alaa Abd El-Fattah. If you’re ordering in the US, the book is 30% off from Seven Stories Press.

Radius: A Story of Feminist Revolution, by Yasmin El-Rifae. You can listen to an episode of BULAQ featuring El-Rifae and hear an excerpt read by the author.


For history buffs & those who like to travel through time & space:

Hanna Diyab’s Book of Travels is now out in English-only paperback. Translated by Elias Muhanna, edited by Johannes Stephan, with a foreword by Yasmine Seale. A joy.

For translators:

Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation is an excellent gift for the literary translator or aspiring literary translator in your life.

For those who enjoy a variety of short fiction:

Out of Time, by iconic Palestinian writer Samira Azzam. Naturally, we recommend this collection of selected short stories by Samira Azzam, translated by Ranya Abdelrahman and with a foreword by Adania Shibli. From ArabLit Books (December 2022, available for order now).


Blood Feast by Malika Moustadraf, translated by Alice Guthrie. Another powerful collection of short fiction by an author who has left us.

This Arab Is Queer, ed. Elias Jahshan. This anthology features a variety of work by eighteen queer Arab writers; makes an excellent gift, as it offers a window into works by a wide range of different authors.

Poets and poetry-lovers:

There are a number of brilliant, wry, world-shifting poetry collections out this year. Three of our favorites:

O by Zeina Hashem Beck

You Can Be the Last Leaf, by Maya Abu al-Hayyat, translated by Fady Joudah

The Threshold by Iman Mersal, translated by Robyn Creswell

Graphic novels:

Although Deena Mohamed’s Shubeik Lubeik (US, Pantheon) and Your Wish is My Command (UK, Granta) isn’t out until January 2023, you can pre-order a copy for your friends and family and print out a little notice that they’ll get one as soon as released.

It Won’t Always Be Like This, by Malaka Gharib. A gorgeous, moving graphic memoir. As Gharib writes on Twitter, “This book explores how we as people don’t need much to love others — not even a common language or culture — and traces how I grow up and become a woman and forge connections in the Middle East, a part of the world that defined me, but never quite felt accessible to me.”

For gastrophiles and literary gourmands

Magazines and collections

The KITCHEN issue of ArabLit Quarterly

Making Levantine Cuisine: Modern Foodways of the Eastern Mediterranean, ed. Anny Gaul, Graham Auman Pitts, and Vicki Valosik.


Arabiyya is Palestinian-Syrian chef and food activist Reem Assil’s debut cookbook, with more than 100 recipes paired with essays about food.

We recommend anything & everything by ArabLit Quarterly regular Nawal Nasrallah, including, most recently, a translation of Best of Delectable Foods and Dishes from al-Andalus and al-Maghrib: A Cookbook by Thirteenth-Century Andalusi Scholar Ibn Razīn al-Tujībī

Prints and posters

Prints, posters, and more from Watan (US-based)

Broadsides and prints from Mizna (US-based)

Joumana Medlej’s shop “Majnouna”  (UK-based)

Aya Krisht’s “Love & Death” series of bilingual prints at Maamoul

Esra Elhamal’s “Islamic Illumination” shop (UK-based)

Art (and more) from the ArabLit Quarterly shop on RedBubble

For children

Children’s books:

Where Butterflies Fill the Sky, by award-winning ArabLit Quarterly contributor Zahra Marwan


The Kind Activity Book, illustrated by Axel Scheffler, Nadine Kaadan and Renia Metallinou

Arabic Book a Month subscription

Educational toys:

Arabicubes, Arabic alphabet blocks from Alaabi World

For musicians and literary melophiles

Books and magazines

The SONG issue of ArabLit Quarterly, ed. Karim Zidan

Midnight in Cairo: The Divas of Egypt’s Roaring ’20s, by Raphael Cormack. A joyous historical journey.

Tote bags

A “sing and ascend” literary tote, with our from our SONG issue


Jewelry and art

Oud earrings from Watan

Oud art from the “Kushajim” feature in the SONG issue of ArabLit Quarterly

Umm Kulthum art from the SONG issue of ArabLit Quarterly


Haya Zaatry’s debut album “Rahawan” came out in 2022. As Christina Habzoun writes over at Bandcamp Daily: “On Rahawan, the stories of generations of women unfold in Zaatry’s complex compositions, as she tells stories of land, earth, women, societies, and deities.”

For literary football fans

Football in the Middle East: State, Society, and the Beautiful Game, ed. Abdullah al-Arian and published by Hurst & Company, 2022.

The fall 2021 FOOTBALL issue of ArabLit Quarterly

For cat-lovers

The CATS issue of ArabLit Quarterly

Catfiyyeh stickers from Watan, or prints, or mugs.