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4 Arab Novels You Need to Read This Month

National Novel Writing Month began as a creative writing project that challenges people all over the world to write 50,000 words for a new novel, throughout the month of November. The website helps get people into writing by offering myriad tips for writer’s block, ideas on how to get started, and inspirations to keep you going along the way. Founded with an emphasis on the creation rather than the completed project, NaNoWriMo (the shortened version of the month’s name), the month hopes to inspire people to get into reading and writing more. That’s definitely something we can get board on with here at BarakaBits. Get started with these incredible Arab novels from around the region.

1) Mourid BarghoutiI Saw Ramallah –  Palestinian poet and author wrote this book as a memoir of some of his time growing up in Ramallah. As a young adult, he left Ramallah to study at Cairo University, and in his absence, the the Six Day War of 1967 occurred. The book is Barghouti’s poetic musings about the city, and chronicles the profound sense of longing for one’s homeland. A book that millions of refugees might be able to relate to, Barghouti successfully describes the emotive state of longing, along with some Palestinian history and insight into he plight of the people now and then.

2) Ahdaf Soueif The Map of Love –  This novel begins in 1900 with a character who travels to Egypt and falls in love with an Egyptian nationalist who is committed to promoting his country’s cause. It then fast forwards to 100 years later, to a descendent of the main character who returns to Egypt and finds an old family trunk stuffed with love letters and journals that were exchanged between the two. The author weaves a fascinatingly beautiful story of love, patriotism and life in Egypt both then and now.

 3) Betool KhedairiAbsent – Narrated by a young orphan who was raised by her aunt, this tale describes the significance of absence in the life of this character. Based in Baghdad in the 1970s, the novel describes some of the darkness and loss experienced during those days of war and instability. The novel highlights the female protagonists’ resilience as well as their struggle, emotions and ultimately their ability to survive in a time of war. A beautiful and sometimes hard novel that provides insight into life in Iraq during Suddam Hussein’s rise to power.

4) Naguib Mahfouz The Cairo Trilogy – Easily one of the most descriptive novels ever written about life in the Middle East, this trilogy follows the life of one Egyptian patriarch in Egypt, and the many details of his family life. Beginning with the Egyptian revolution against the British colonizers, the novels represent the many changes experienced in Egyptian daily life. A trilogy so absorbing that once finished, it feels as if a part of your life has finished as well.

For more information: Sign up to begin your novel at NaNoWriMo!

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