A Reading List for Arab American Heritage Month 2024

For Arab American Heritage Month, observed annually during the month of April, we asked our member magazines and presses to share with us some of the work by Arab American writers, as well as Arab writers from around the world published in the United States, that they recommend reading in celebration.


Poetry Collections


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 Wild Fox of Yemen by Threa Almontaser

Graywolf Press | 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.”




Atrium by Hala Alyan

Three Rooms Press | 2012

In her debut poetry collection, Alyan “traces lines of global issues in personal spaces with fervently original imagery and a fierce passion and intense intimacy.”




Took House by Lauren Camp

Tupelo Press | 2020

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




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.”




Ante body by Marwa Helal

Nightboat Books | 2022

Ante body is “an incisive poetic sequence that tracks the relationship between migration and complex traumas in this unsparing critique of the unjust conditions that brought us the global pandemic.”




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.”




[…] by Fady Joudah

Milkweed Editions | 2024

In these poems, Joudah “offers multiple ways of seeing the world through a Palestinian lens—a world filled with ordinary desires, no matter how grand or tragic the details may be—and asks their reader to be changed by them.”




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.”




Fugitive Atlas by Khaled Mattawa

Graywolf Press | 2020

Mattawa’s latest poetry collection is “a sweeping, impassioned account of refugee crises, military occupations, and ecological degradation, an acute and probing journey through a world in upheaval.”




Fugitive/Refuge by Philip Metres

Copper Canyon Press | 2024

In this book-length qasida, Metres “follows the journey of his refugee ancestors—from Lebanon to Mexico to the United States—in a vivid exploration of what it means to long for home.”




Sand Opera by Philip Metres

Alice James Books | 2015

According to Fady Joudah, “In Sand Opera we encounter the poet’s inventive vision of art, and also his unforgettable tenderness: his songs to the world of children and to the children of the world.”




Umbilical Cord by Hasan Namir

Book*Hug Press | 2021

In this collection, Namir “shares insight into his love story with his husband, the complexities of the IVF surrogacy process, and the first year as a family of three.”




The Tiny Journalist by Naomi Shihab Nye

BOA Editions | 2019

Available as both a print book and an audiobook, this poetry collection “puts a human face on war and the violence that divides us from each other.”




Salat by Dujie Tahat

Tupelo Press | 2020

According to Zeina Hashem Beck, “borrowing their structure from Muslim prayer…these poems remind the reader that poetry is a kind of prayer, that any prayer is a kind of searching.”




Cover of Traces featuring an image of gradient grays.Traces: Sand and Snow in Symbiosis

Translated from the French and Arabic by Max de Montaigne and Mohamed Abdellahi Ould BABAH E. Horma Abdeljelil

Middle Creek Publishing | 2024

Edited by Jeffrey A. Lockwood and Mohamed Abdellahi Ould BABAH E. Horma Abdeljelil, this collection features ekphrastic poetry by various Anglophone and Arabophone poets “to capture the ephemeral yet enduring essence of our passage.”




A book with a hole in it by Kamelya Omayma Youssef

Wendy’s Subway | 2022

This poetry collection explores “the fallibility of language at the juncture of the multiple, intersecting wars on women, on ‘terror,’ on the non-White body, and on people and language in diaspora.”




Unceded Land by Issam Zineh

Trio House Press | 2022

Zineh’s “capturing of the romantic and violent, the personal and the political, is a testament to his unwavering dedication to plumbing the depths of emotion that lie in psychological and physical territories alike.”




Nonfiction Books


The Weight of Ghosts by Laila Halaby

Red Hen Press | 2023

This memoir is “a lyrical reclaiming and an insistence by the author that she own the rights to her story, which is American flavored with an unreleasing elsewhere.”




The Beauty of Light: Interviews with Etel Adnan

Translated from the French by Ethan Mitchell

Nightboat Books | 2024

This conversation with Laure Adler is “a lively and spontaneous interview with Etel Adnan about her absolute belief in the beauty of the world, the beauty of art.”




Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Insha Allah by Sara Cheikh

Feral House | 2023

This memoir “explores the plight and history of the forgotten Saharawi people as readers come to know Sara and her sometimes frustrating but always loving family.”




Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire

Haymarket Books | 2022

Edited by Jehad Abusalim, Jennifer Bing, and Mike Merryman-Lotze, this anthology is “a seminal, moving and wide-ranging anthology of Palestinian writers and artists.”




Against Erasure: A Photographic Memory of Palestine Before the Nakba

Haymarket Books | 2024

Edited by Teresa Aranguren and Sandra Barrilaro, this book is “a unique, stunning collection of images of Palestine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and a testament to the vibrancy of Palestinian society prior to occupation.”




Rotten Evidence: Reading and Writing in an Egyptian Prison by Ahmed Naji

McSweeney’s | 2020

This chronicle of Naji’s time in prison “stands as a testament to the power of the creative mind, in the face of authoritarian censorship.”




Novels, Short Fiction Collections, and Fiction Anthologies


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.




Is This How You Eat a Watermelon? by Zein El-Amine

Radix Media | 2022

The seven stories in this collection “span war-torn Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United States to tell stories of transit and survival.”




Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad

Grove/Atlantic | 2023

Hammad’s second novel, following a Palestinian production of Hamlet in the West Bank, “is a story of diaspora, displacement, and the connection to be found in family and shared resistance.”




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.”




If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English by Noor Naga

Graywolf Press | 2022

In this novel set in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, “an Egyptian American woman and a man from the village of Shobrakheit meet at a café.”




Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan 

Restless Books | 2017

In 28 stories, Unnikrishnan follows guest workers “brought in to construct the towering monuments to wealth that punctuate the skylines of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.”




Literary Magazines


Logo of Terrain.org featuring text in black with a purple dot and a purple and green flower above the text.“Standing Still” by Elmaz Abinader

Terrain.org | 2024

This essay begins, “I am told to stand at the first desk. / The border agent is blond, has a thin line of lips and never looks at me. I imagine him fishing in the lakes with his father whom I do not know.”




A Conversation with Andrea Abi-Karam

Full Stop | 2023

In this interview by Katherine Brewer Ball, Abi-Karam discusses “their time on tour with Sister Spit, performance poetry, and queer and trans modes of resistance.”




“What the Exiled Are” by Sara Abou Rashed

The Kenyon Review | 2024

This poem begins, “History’s blood crumbs; prisoners / on the other side of the gate….”





Against Silence: A Palestinian Writing Series

Words Without Borders | 2024

Selected and introduced by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, this series “seeks to address the relative lack of Palestinian writing available in English translation, and just as crucially, the paucity of critical engagement with the literature that already exists.”




“Sandstorm” by Rasha Alduwaisan

The Common | 2021

This poem begins, “There’s an itch in my throat like fox fur, / broom bush, cactus whittled to dust, / and my son thinks the city has vanished….”




Logo of ANMLY with the text in black inside a twisted mobius shape colored in with multicolored patches, against a pale purple background.“Notes on Third World Subtraction” by Zaina Alsous

ANMLY | 2017





Arabic Short Stories from Palestine

The Common | 2022

This special portfolio features short fiction by Mahmoud Shukair, Samira Azzam, Suhail Matar, Abeer Khshiboon, and more.




Arabic Stories from Syria

The Common | 2019

This special portfolio features stories by Luqman Derki, Shahla Al-Ujayli, Mohammad Ibrahim Nawaya, Raw’a Sunbul, Haidar Haidar, and more.




Another Chicago Magazine“if i had fallen in love” by Rabha Ashry

Another Chicago Magazine | 2024

This poem begins, “if I had fallen in love that summer / in my little slip dresses and boots the color of blood, / lips a bite of strawberry and hair a wild story, / I might have been beautiful….”




Claiming a Place in the World: Life Writing by Women in Arabic

Words Without Borders | 2020

This series features work in translation by women authors from the Arab world, countering “the assumption that women’s life writing would tend toward the domestic and private spheres.”




“Al-Thakla—Arabic as the Original Mourner” by Abdelrahman ElGendy

The Markaz Review | 2024

This essay begins, “How do you hold your grief in a language that’s been its main perpetrator?”




Logo of West Trestle Review featuring the black text in a circle around an illustration of a train.“Tala (Ode to the Girl Palm)” by Majda Gama

West Trestle Review

This poem begins, “When I ate the fruit of the date palm delivered fresh / to me from an oasis in the empty quarter, admired / the gilt-twined bag the fruit lay in….”




“We all need something to believe in.” by Monica George

Wellspringwords | 2023

This poem begins, “We’re born into the chaos of humanity, taught that we need to believe in something and understand everything.”




“We Deserve Better Than the Live-Action Aladdin” by Olivia Giovetti

Electric Lit | 2019

This essay begins, “I spent the better part of 1993 watching two VHS tapes on endless repeat: Disney’s Aladdin and the lesser-known 1955 MGM musical Kismet.”




“Resonance” by Hedy Habra

Indelible | 2023

This poem begins, “People talk of chemistry, of fields of energy, / of parallel universes. Some recount / at least ten dimensions in which so much / could be recovered…”




“Homeland” by Fadia H. Jawdat

Adi Magazine | 2023

This poem begins, “you feed me // i fumble to find // holes // is this a disappearing game or                    stretching                    membrane?”




“Hotel” by Safa Khatib

The Kenyon Review | 2024

This poem begins, “Then I was again / that vacant room. Guests were // various: my death again / and beautiful.”





Logo of West Trestle Review featuring the black text in a circle around an illustration of a train.“A Secret Life” by Yasmin Mariam Kloth

West Trestle Review

This poem begins, “There’s a process to the pomegranate / most people don’t see. First, / you hold her round body / in your open palm….”




“For the Dead Among Us” by Lisa Suhair Majaj

Adi Magazine | 2023

This poem begins, “We will open the day for you, / and the night. We know / that you are beneath the earth, / or ash on the wind. But in / some space or time you still / live.”




“Steel Birds” by Noor Nabulsi

The Markaz Review | 2024

In this photo essay, “a young Palestinian American attempts to find a way out of her grief with a series of stark images.”




“A Cairo Meet Cute That’s More Than it Seems,” A Conversation with Noor Naga

Electric Lit | 2022

In this conversation with Doma Mahmoud, Naga says, “There is the book that I’m writing and there’s the book the American girl is writing in the book. In many ways, her text is meant to be presented to an American English-speaking audience.”




Image from Dark Matter: Women Witnessing featuring the text "Women Witnessing" in white against an image of stones beneath water.“My Grandmother Said” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Dark Matter: Women Witnessing | 2015

This poem begins, “They just don’t know our stories, / (after being tear gassed by Israeli soldiers, / she held the cut onion, the hankie to her face)— / If they knew our stories, they would behave a different way.”




Logo of Terrain.org featuring text in black with a purple dot and a purple and green flower above the text.“Hiding Place Inside the Early Hour” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Terrain.org | 2017

This poem begins, “You’re there, Dad. / A fold in the sky’s softest cloth— / what rises as we sleep….”




Logo of The Cincinnati Review featuring "The" and "Review" in black on gray and "Cincinnati" in white on a red square.“(perhaps?)” by Fatma Omar

Cincinnati Review | 2023

This poem begins, “My mother used to lock herself in the wax room / Drip drip drip you’d hear / Run down the wooden furniture….”




“The Funeral” by Mahreen Sohail

A Public Space | 2024

This story begins, “Yesterday I went to my aunt’s funeral. She was my father’s older sister. Long before he died we lost touch with her and my uncle and their sons.”




“Coming Home” by Rana Tahir

The Common | 2023

This poem begins, “I have learned to rebuild from my parents— / the way to smooth the cracks in a wall, / that when a bullet shatters the window— / new panes of glass can be brought in.”




Logo of ANMLY with the text in black inside a twisted mobius shape colored in with multicolored patches, against a pale purple background.“In the Walgreens Parking Lot on 44th & Indian School, Another Massacre” by Fargo Tbakhi

ANMLY | 2020

This poem begins, “sidles its way onto my screen. a bomb / has struck a Gazan school, a tangle of limbs / untangled. a cookout of cousins, their breaths / taken for granted, then un-granted, taken.”




“What is a Homeland?” by Mosab Abu Toha

Arrowsmith Journal

This essay begins, “In Gassan Kanafani’s celebrated novella Returning to Haifa, Said, the protagonist, asks his wife, Safiyya, ‘Do you know what homeland is? It is where nothing like this happens.’”




“First Generation” by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Exposition Review | 2023

This poem begins, “Our parents told us, if we left, it was for fear / of what might fall: / the structures that house us, // the sky itself, breached, defenseless.”




“Notes from the Civil Discourse Committee” by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Tahoma Literary Review | 2023

This poem begins, “It was ‘the first time’ I took my daughter  / to a protest. She was three weeks old and / my ligaments, my language still loose, / the ground beneath me precarious….”




Logo of The Cincinnati Review featuring "The" and "Review" in black on gray and "Cincinnati" in white on a red square.“Night Flight” by Saadi Youssef

Translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa

Cincinnati Review | 2023

This poem begins, “These planes that creep away / in the middle of the night, / their engines off, / careless and lumbering, / where do they go?”




“Melh” by Rewa Zeinati

The Common | 2021

This poem begins, “Water. / At the shore we don’t build anything. Behind our sunglasses, our eyes dart in every direction. A man carries a sandcastle on his back.”




“The Citizenship Question, or, The Actors of Dearborn” by Ghassan Zeineddine

Georgia Review | 2020

This story begins, “Before arriving at Uncle Sam’s house on the corner of Yinger and Gould Streets, Youssef Bazzi had been canvassing the neighborhoods in East Dearborn for over a month, knocking on doors throughout the day and late into the night, despite the heat or rain.”




“Unceded Land” by Issam Zineh

Tahoma Literary Review | 2021

This poem begins, “This part of the cape is known for oysters. That part’s known for turnips. // The playhouse is closed until next season. I keep reporting in this way.”




We Are More

The Rumpus

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




Writing from the Arabian Gulf

The Common | 2021

This special portfolio features fiction by Tariq Al Haydar and Farah Ali, nonfiction by Keija Parssinen, poetry by Hala Alyan and Rasha Alduwaisan, and more.