A Reading List for Arab American Heritage Month 2022

For Arab American Heritage Month, observed annually during the month of April, we asked our members—independent presses, literary journals, and others—to share with us some of the work by Arab American writers that they recommend reading in celebration. 


Literary Magazines


“Beirut in Pieces” by Jenine Abboushi

The Markaz Review | 2020

In this essay, Abboushi “revisits life before and after the civil war, participates in Lebanon’s revolution, contemplates the country’s monetary implosion, and imagines the Port of Beirut explosion—all while weighing the social terms of Lebanon’s political renewal.”




“Bahamut, or the Salt of the Earth” by Farah Adbessamad

The Markaz Review | 2021

Abdessamad’s essay begins, “‘There was a fish, which carried an ox. And the ox carried a precious slab of stone, which also carried an angel, and guess what? The angel carried the world.’ I recall the story and my father’s thrill the first time he tried measuring the size of a big fish with his arms spread out in front of me.”




“Found Poem Composed in Dearborn, Michigan” by Mariam Bazeed

Evergreen Review | 2020

This found poem, which includes a poetic explanation of its sources, begins, “Found Poem Composed in / Dearborn, Michigan, / —Where Post–9/11 Streets Speak Arabic— / in the Sixth Month….”




“Circadian Rhythms” by Marwa Berro

Evergreen Review | 2012

This story begins, “I ran away from home. I ran just to escape Mama’s biting words. When she speaks to me, it is with a sort of brash insensitivity that gives no credence to human emotions.”




Three Erasures by Tarik Dobbs

Cincinnati Review | 2021

These three erasures are, according to Lisa Ampleman, “from a riveting series in which Tarik Dobbs details the experience of Arab immigrants in Michigan in the early twentieth century, using documents from the Henry Ford Archives.”




The Experimental Issue

Mizna: Prose, Poetry and Art Exploring Arab America | 2021

The winter 2021 issue of Mizna, guest-edited by Tarik Dobbs, challenges conventional forms, language, and ideas within literary processes and traditions.




“Arabs & Race in America Through the Short Story Prism” by Malu Halasa

The Markaz Review | 2020

In this book review of the 2020 short story collection by Dima Alzayat, Halasa writes, “The best writing in Alligator & Other Stories starts a different conversation about Arab belonging and assimilation in America, through the prism of Syrian experience.”




“Failed Treaties” by Sahar Mustafah

Bellevue Literary Review | 2015

This story begins, “Danny used to open the door and let me into his apartment downstairs at seven a.m. every Saturday.”




“My Legs are Salwar Starchy” by Huma Sheikh 

Cincinnati Review | 2021

According to Madeleine Wattenberg, “In just nine lines, some only one or two words in length, Sheikh uses the salwar kameez as a guiding image to unravel a reflection on girlhood.”




We Are More

The Rumpus

This monthly column is “an inclusive series for Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) and SWANA diaspora writers, curated by Michelle Zamanian.” Recently featured writers include Sara Elkamel, Mary Barghout, Summer Farah, and more.







Villainy by Andrea Abi-Karam

Nightboat Books | 2021

Abi-Karam’s second poetry collection “foments political action in public spaces, and indexes the various emotional states, such as rage, revelry, fear, grief, and desire to which queers must tend during protest.”




The Last Visit by Chad Abushanab

Autumn House Press | 2019

Selected by Jericho Brown as the winner of the 2018 Donald Justice Poetry Prize, this debut poetry collection “explores a family broken by alcoholism and abuse.”




Shifting the Silence by Etel Adnan

Nightboat Books | 2020

Adnan’s latest book is “a heart-rending meditation on aging, grief, and the universal experience of facing down death.”




The Wild Fox of Yemen by Threa Almontaser

Graywolf Press | April 2021

Almontaser’s debut poetry collection is “a love letter to the country and people of Yemen, a portrait of young Muslim womanhood in New York after 9/11, and an extraordinarily composed examination of what it means to carry in the body the echoes of what came before.”



Bayna Bayna: In-Between by Zeina Azzam

The Poetry Box | May 2021

Azzam’s poetry collection “reflects on the feeling of being in-between home and exile, childhood and adulthood, wholeness and loss, and living and dying.”




Took House by Lauren Camp

Tupelo Press | 2020

According to Hala Alyan, Camp’s latest poetry collection is “an astonishing, enchanted world of nature and cityscape, interior terrains, art-making and witnessing all at once.”




The Alchemist’s Diary by Hayan Charara

Hanging Loose Press | 2001

According to Naomi Shihab Nye, The Alchemist’s Diary is a “strong first collection featuring poems of family and Detroit’s Arab-American community.”





Deluge by Leila Chatti

Copper Canyon Press | 2020

In her debut full-length collection, Chatti explores “themes of shame, illness, grief, and gender, transmuting religious narratives through the lens of a young Arab-American woman suffering a taboo female affliction.”




The Gold Shop of Ba-Ali by Yayha Frederickson

Lost Horse Press | 2014

According to Sam Hamill, this Idaho Prize–winning poetry collection “delivers us into an Arab world stripped of exoticism, a world made palpable by mundane reality, an ordinary world made luminous by the vision and speech of a genuinely gifted poet.”




Dear God. Dear Bones. Dear Yellow. by Noor Hindi

Haymarket Books | 2022

According to Zeina Hashem Beck, “Hindi’s searing poems navigate memory, violence, and inheritance with a candid and critical eye. Filled with heartache, tenderness, love, anger, and humor, they interrogate what it’s like to be woman, Palestinian, and American in today’s world.”




BINT by Ghinwa Jawhari

Radix Media | 2021

Jawhari’s debut collection, a winner of the inaugural Own Voices Chapbook Prize, is “a meditation on the Arabic word ‘bint’ (بنت), or ‘girl.'”





Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance by Fady Joudah

Milkweed Editions | 2018

Joudah’s fourth poetry collection features “love poems to the lovely and unlovely, the loved and unloved,” as well as a collaboration with Golan Haji, a Kurdish Syrian writer, to “foreground the imaginative act of constructing memory and history.”




Shrapnel Maps by Philip Metres

Copper Canyon Press | 2020

Metres’s fourth poetry collection examines “the wounds and reverberations of the Israel/Palestine conflict,” integrating “documentary flyers, vintage postcards, travelogues, cartographic language, and first person testimonies.”




The Tiny Journalist by Naomi Shihab Nye

BOA Editions | 2019

Called by the Washington Post “a moving testament to the impact one person can have and the devastating effects of occupation,” Nye’s latest poetry collection for adults is inspired by the story of Janna Jihad Ayyad, a young Palestinian known for her videos of anti-occupation protests.



Salat by Dujie Tahat

Tupelo Press | 2020

According to Kaveh Akbar, the poems in Tahat’s debut collection are “written in a compelling new form of the poet’s own invention that participate, fully — they praise, weep, spit, beg, laugh, choke, sing.”




Water & Salt by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Red Hen Press | 2017

This debut poetry collection “sings in the voices of people ravaged by cycles of war and news coverage.”




Baghdad Noir

Akashic Books | 2018

Edited by Samuel Shimon, this anthology features stories set in Baghdad by Sinan Antoon, Ali Bader, Mohammed Alwan Jabr, Nassif Falak, and more.




Beirut Noir

Akashic Books | 2015

Edited by Iman Humaydan, this anthology features stories set in Beirut by Rawi Hage, Muhammad Abi Samra, Leila Eid, and more.




Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar

Sarabande Books | 2016

The stories in Jarrar’s collection “grapple with love, loss, displacement, and survival in a collection that moves seamlessly between realism and fable, history and the present.”