A Reading List for Arab American Heritage Month

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 Arabic and Arab American literature they recommend reading in celebration. The resulting list includes work by writers who identify as Arab American, as well as work translated from the Arabic. An earlier version of this list included work outside the bounds of this theme; we sincerely apologize for the mistake. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at [email protected].


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 Paper Camera by Youmna Chlala

Litmus Press | 2019

This poetry collection is “flickering catalog of Beirut and other cities, where loss and longing are interspersed with vignettes of intimacy.”



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.”



Lighthouse for the Drowning by Jawdat Fakhreddine

BOA Editions | 2017

The first U.S. publication of this major Lebanese poet, this poetry collection—presented bilingually in Arabic and English—“establishes a revolutionary dialogue between international, modernist values and the Arabic tradition.”




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.”




BINT by Ghinwa Jawhari

Radix Media | March 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.”




50 Water Dreams by Siwar Masannat

Cleveland State University Poetry Center | 2015

This debut poetry collection, selected by Ilya Kaminsky for the 2014 CSU Poetry Center First Book Competition, “takes us on a book-long journey of Fadia and Ishmael and a mysterious horse that keeps the house company.”



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.”




Roundabout of Death by Faysal Khartash

New Vessel Press | May 2021

Set in Aleppo in 2012, this novel “offers powerful witness to the violence that obliterated the ancient city’s rich layers of history, its neighborhoods and medieval and Ottoman landmarks.”



Moving the Palace by Charif Majdalani

New Vessel Press | 2017

In Majdalani’s novel, “a young Lebanese explorer leaves the Levant for the wilds of Africa, encountering an eccentric English colonel in Sudan and enlisting in his service.”




Literary Magazines


The Common

The Common publishes annual portfolios of Arabic fiction and art, including Issue 15, which features stories from Jordan; Issue 17, which features stories from Syria; Issue 19, which features stories from Sudan; and Issue 21, which is forthcoming in April 2021 and features stories from Morocco. The Common also releases related classroom readings and interviews with contributing authors.




The Markaz Review

Based in Los Angeles and “taking the Mashriq and the Maghreb and our diasporas as a departure point,” The Markaz Review is “an international platform for positive inquiry, criticism, performance and dialogue.” The most recent issue, TRUTH? حقيقة, features work by Hadani Ditmars, Mohja Kahf, Ammiel Alcalay, and more.




Rusted Radishes: Beirut Literary and Art Journal

Rusted Radishes: Beirut Literary and Art Journal / فَمْ: مجلة بيروت الأدبية والفنية is a space for emerging and established writers and artists with a connection to Lebanon and the Arab world. The most recent three issues are available to read online.




The Sun

Randa Jarrar’s essay “Biblioclast” was published in The Sun in March 2016.





Words Without Borders

The Comic Edge: Arabic Humor, a 2019 issue of Words Without Borders, features humor writing translated from the Arabic, including work from Muhammed Mustajab in Egypt and Wajdi Al-Ahdal in Yemen.