From Romance To Magical Realism: Arab Novels To Cozy Up To On These Winter Nights

As winter winds whisper outside and the nights grow longer, there’s an undeniable allure to snuggling beneath the warmth of your favorite blanket, a steaming cup of tea in hand, and a captivating book waiting to transport you to distant worlds. For bibliophiles, the winter season is an invitation to embark on literary journeys that complement the cozy ambiance of a well-made bed. In this list we gathered six books authored by arabs like Radwa Ashour and Khalil Jibran that give a sense of collective Arab identity and also take the reader on a soul nourishing journey.

Woman From Tantoura, By Radwa Ashour

The novel takes place in the village of Tantoura in Palestine and tells the story of a displaced family that lived between 1947 and 2000. The novel follows the life of a young girl from her days in the village of Tantoura in Palestine up to the dawn of the new century. We participate in events as they unfold, seeing them through the uneducated but sharply intelligent mind of Ruqayya as she tries to make sense of all that has happened to her and her family. With her, we live her love of her land and of her people; we feel the repeated pain of loss, of diaspora, and of cross-generational misunderstanding; and above all, we come to know her indomitable human spirit. As we read we discover that we have become part of Ruqayya’s family, and her voice will remain with us long after we have closed the book.

The Rat’s Alley, By Ahmed Khaled Tawfeq

Extremely symbolic and eye opening. Set in a city that is governed by blindness and darkness. This read doesn’t promise a happy ending, nor a romantic view of life. Yet, it takes symbolism to the next level. It reflects on the binary of light and darkness. This one is a page turner if you like plots that contain multiple layers of symbolism and philosophical quandaries.

Genre: Horror Fiction

10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World, By Elif Shafak

Bittersweet. This novel is basically about a woman who begins to think, remember, and reflect on her life after her death. The novel begins and ends with the death of the protagonist which is quite an admirable technique. 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds is a gripping novel that takes the reader to the several divisions contained in the Turkish society which is a characteristic of all of Shafak’s novels.

Genre: Psychological Fiction/ Historical Fiction

Via New Arab

Broken Wings, Jibran Khalel Jibran

Here is to classical romance where true love existed. This love tale is set in Beirut. It is not just about the torment of love, but the novel in itself is a great literary phenomenon that has left readers stunned and in awe.

Genre: Romance

Al Nabati, Youssef Zidane

Twenty years before Amr Ibn Al As conquered Egypt. Written by the well acclaimed Egyptian novelist, scholar, and historian Youssef Zidane. Al Nabati is a historical novel that takes the reader to the minute details of the life of Arabs in the Arabian peninsula, breaking the conventional narrative by dwelling on many interesting historical facts, as well as mingling the factual with the fictitious.

Genre: Historical Romance

Via Masrawy

The Complete Works of Amal Donqul

The poetry of Amal Donqul is one of the groundbreaking things that happened to Arabic poetry in the modern age. A journey in Donqul’s poetry could take the reader east, west, medieval, and back to modernity. It blends his personal experience which involves cultural shock between his upbringing in upper Egypt and his settling in Cairo, his ill fated journey with cancer, and his strong opinions on politics especially the Palestinian conflict after the Nakba 1948.

Genre: Modern Arabic Poetry

The literature of Arab authors either written in Arabic, in a foreign language, or translated not only brings with it relevance, nostalgia, and the essence of the collective Arab experience. It is between the pages of Arab written novels and poetry that one identifies, and reconciles.

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