The last few decades have produced an impressive body of work in modern Arabic literature, as well as a sea of new Arab literary voices who have been able to reflect the realities of their time with precision and honesty.
Whether they revolve around the Lebanese Civil War, the Palestinian plight or reflections on history and society, these novels capture the depth of human experience. They are definitely worth revisiting this winter.
1. City of Love and Ashes - Yusuf Idris
The prominent Egyptian writer explores conflict and sacrifice through the love story that develops between a young Egyptian man and a young Egyptian woman as they fight for the independence of their country from the British Occupation.
2. Gate of the Sun - Elias Khoury
Dubbed the "magnum opus of the Palestinian saga," the epic novel by the prolific Lebanese novelist explores Palestinian exile in Lebanon through the life of a dying Palestinian refugee as it is recounted to him by his spiritual son in an attempt to wake him up from his coma.
3. Beirut Nightmares - Ghada Samman
In this novel that is set during the height of the Lebanese Civil War, the prominent Syrian writer explores the impacts of civil conflict on everyday people through the narration of a young woman who is trapped in her apartment for two weeks by the raging streets, as she writes a series of vignettes inspired by what is going on around her.
4. I saw Ramallah - Mourid Barghouti
In this autobiographical tale, the prominent Palestinian poet explores the emotional journey he encountered when he saw Ramallah for the first time after 30 years of exile, as he was barred from his homeland following the 1967 Six-Day War.
5. Rama and the Dragon - Edwar Al-Kharrat
The prominent Egyptian novelist simultaneously explores inner conflicts and the relationships between Egypt's Christian and Muslim communities and Upper and Lower Egypt, all through a love story that relates to universal human experiences.
6. The Tiller of Waters - Huda Barakat
In the beautiful novel, the prominent Lebanese novelist explores the devastation of Beirut through the narration of multi-layered recollections of a hallucinating man, as he recounts his life and many historical events in the process.
7. Adrift on the Nile - Naguib Mahfouz
The Egyptian Nobel laureate explores the psychology of spiritual emptiness and the social factors that affect it in this novel, through the experiences of a young drug addict who shares a houseboat on Cairo's Nile with others who are also seeking an escape.
8. The Polymath - Ben Salem Himmich
In the historical novel that tells the complicated life story of the Arab genius Ibn Khaldun, the Moroccan novelist explores the relationship between power and knowledge.
9. Memory in the Flesh - Ahlam Mosteghanemi
The Algerian writer explores Algeria's historical struggle against foreign domination through the narration of a man who fought against the French occupation as he goes through life.
10. The Other Place - Ibrahim Abdel Meguid
The Egyptian novelist explores the shallowness of the obsession with the petrodollar and money in general, through the experiences of a young Egyptian who migrates to one of the Gulf countries and encounters the world of the oil-rich elite and Western businessmen.