5 Books: Palestinian Short-story Collections

This week, we are launching our first community-supported translation: Ranya Abdelrahman’s translation of thirty-one selected stories by the great cult-classic Palestinian writer Samira Azzam.

Thanks to our supporters on Patreon and elsewhere for making this happen.

You can find the book on Amazon (US, UK, Germany, Canada, Japan, UAE, etc.) and Gumroad. On Gumroad, the book it as a 20% launch-week discount, set to end December 9. It is also coming to other platforms and bookshops, as well as launch events in the new year.

To mark the release, we have been celebrating Samira Azzam and her work all this week on ArabLit. Today is the final day of launch week, and the last day to get a 20% discount on the paperback.

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Today, we take the opportunity of the release of the Samira Azzam short-story collection to think through a list of other Palestinian short-story collections. There aren’t nearly as many available in English as there are Palestinian novels. For instance, of the women writers whose works we collected in our “9 Short Stories by Palestinian Women in Translation,” only two have a collection in translation: Nayrouz Qarmout (Sea Cloak) and now Samira Azzam (Out of Time, translated by Ranya Abdelrahman).

Although there are a number of anthologies (recently Palestine + 100, Book of Gaza, Book of Ramallah, and Gaza Writes Back, and earlier A Land of Stone and Thyme and Qissat: Short Stories by Palestinian Women), there are few single-author collections. Even Emile Habibi’s The Sextet of the Six Days and Other Stories is — surprisingly — not available in translation, although Graham Liddell translated two of the stories for Banipal 73.

In addition to Out of Time: The Collected Short Stories of Samira Azzam, translated by Ranya Abdelrahman, we also recommend these five collections:

Mahmoud Shuqair’s Jerusalem Stands Alone, translated by Nicole Fares.

A series of luminous short-short stories set in occupied Jerusalem by a master of his craft. Shuqair has authored picture books, short stories, and novels for readers of all ages. He is the author of more than forty books, including more than a dozen for children. He excels at complex portraiture in small spaces, and these stories weave together to create a separate and shared portrait of Jerusalem.

Nayrouz Qarmout’s The Sea Cloak and Other Stories, translated by Perween Richards (except for the title story, which was translated by Charis Bredin).

A collection of 11 stories by author and journalist Nayrouz Qarmout; these women-centered tales are powerful, voice-driven narratives about daily life in Gaza.

Ghassan Kanafani’s Palestine’s Children: Returning to Haifa & Other Stories, translated by Barbara Harlow and Karen Riley.

As the publisher writes, ” each story involves a child who is victimized by political events and circumstances, but who nevertheless participates in the struggle toward a better future.”

Saeed Teebi, Her First Palestinian 

Teebi — a writer and lawyer based in Toronto — was shortlisted for the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize for “Her First Palestinian,” the titular story in his debut collection, also titled Her First Palestinian, which centers Palestinians in Canada.

Mazen Maalouf’s Jokes for the Gunmen, translated by Jonathan Wright.

A fantastic, bizarre, surreal, and too-real collection of stories that won the inaugural Multaqa Prize for the Arabic Short Story and was longlisted for the International Booker.

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This list is by no means exhaustive. If you have more collections to recommend, please add them below.

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