When was the last time you read a book - for fun? Or maybe for your own self educational purpose? A book that you chose, that you made the time for, and that you truly felt fulfilled from? Well, in spirit of the changing seasons, we think you should make a change in your life and pick up a new book. In fact, I can bet that at least one of these five Palestinian written and Palestinian inspired books can pick you back up right where you left off, right at that last time.
by Mohammed El-Kurd
The cherished moments we have with our Palestinian grandparents is irreplaceable, and Palestinian writer and poet Mohammed El-Kurd depicts those memories in his debut book of poems, Rifqa. Named after his grandmother, who would be there for him with jasmine flowers in hand, every day after school, the poems in Rifqa place remarkable Palestinian memories robbed by exile. As lots of our grandparents are older than the state of Israel, we know that they have lived through all the beauty and despair constructed by history. And in this debut collection of poems, Mohammed El-Kurd shows us how there will be a fight to triumph for Palestine.
⭐️Review: Home is where we go to remember and revisit who we’ve always been. Mohammed El-Kurd’s poetry is a home returned to us.” -Aja Monet, author of My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter
Against the Loveless World
by Susan Abulhawa
How would it feel to have been born into an unstable world, where both halves of your life are decided by violence that sits around you? Nahr knows. Against the Loveless World is a beautiful story that tells the hardest parts of young life within the Middle East.
Nahr had dreams. She thought she'd marry a noble man, have children, and pursue a beauty career, maybe with her own salon if she could first find stability within her current chapter. But right now, she's in some solitary confinement in a different country than she was born in. The man she married has left her, her family can't afford to take care of her, and so she becomes a refugee in Iraq because of the vicious US attack. She survives all these changes of events, and finally gets back to her true home, Palestine. What comes next underneath the occupation by Israel is her uncertain destiny. This book is filled with moral ambiguity, intuition, and perseverance - something we could all use a bit more of.
⭐️Review: “A thrilling, defiant novel. Abulhawa’s latest novel reads as a riot act against oppression, misogyny, and shame.” -Fatima Bhutto, author of The Runaways
The Beauty of Your Face
by Sahar Mustafah
Based in Chicago, Afaf Rahman, a hardworking daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is faced with the forefront of Islamophobia in a nation of division. As principal, Ataf Rahman leads the Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in a small suburb. And one day a shooter - motivated by a white supremacy group - enters into the school and attacks. Through the suspenseful moves the attacker makes within the school, Ataf carries us through memories of her entire life with Islamophobia and racism. Ataf has slowly started to understand that the connections between American racism and Israeli racism promote hate and only hate. And such, the devastations Ataf faced because of them has left her in a disarray of thoughts. Islam is her silver lining, although it's an unfavorable religion in certain eyes. "The Beauty of Your Face is an inspiring story of a Muslim woman's life in a nation at odds with its ideals, an emotionally rich novel that encourages us to reflect on our shared humanity".
⭐️Review: "The Beauty of Your Face is a striking and stirring debut, one that reaches its hands straight into the fire". -Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers
Justice for Some (Law and the Question of Palestine)
by Noura Erakat
Are you really a Palestinian if you don't know how mass media and the law treat the rights of Palestine? It's questionable, unethical, and absolutely vexing. Justice for Some is first off - an incredible book title. Off the bat, readers like you and me, will understand the uproar in justice for the majority while completely shutting out the minority. The fight for land, freedom, and peace between Israel and Palestine has been on going for one year too many, yet nothing has been solved in the hands of the law. Noura Erakat paints the truth of the Palestinian struggle in past, current, and future conditions in her latest novel. Recommending this novel is the least I can do to help fight for change, Erakat reminds us that we can't just say, we need to act - because "Within the law, change is possible".
⭐️Review: "Anyone wondering how and why international law has failed so miserably to curb Israeli violations in Palestine and the deleterious effect this has had on the law itself should read this book." -Raja Shehadeh
A Woman is No Man
by Etaf Rum
It's no secret that challenging societal and cultural norms can create devastating consequences. The risks of failure when it comes to this battle are higher for women, and Etaf Rum exhibits one of the most common questions Middle Eastern women ask themselves: "Compared to a man, what is my worth?".
Palestinian women all over the world have spent decades trying to express who they are before the restricting and magnified aspects of Arab culture get deeper. Young Isra expects to fall in line with the traditions of marriage within Birzeit in 1990. Awaiting an arranged marriage with Adam, Isra hopes that she can continue to expect true love, memorable romance, and adventures with her loving partner. The fairytale of moving to New York and experiencing a new life in the United States is abruptly short, and Isra finds herself guilty for not being good enough bride who can give birth to a son. A Woman is No Man will remind you that in some parts of the world, mothers and daughters will live through the same path of cultural confinement. It will also remind you that Palestinian women, like all women, deserve better.
⭐️Review: “Garnering justified comparisons to Khaled Hosseini’s "A Thousand Splendid Suns"... Etaf Rum’s debut novel is a must-read about women mustering up the bravery to follow their inner voice.” -Refinery 29
Return: A Palestinian Memoir
by Ghada Karmi
Born in Jerusalem, Ghada Karmi writes a memoir of Palestinian exile that she and millions have faced during a heightened point in Israeli power. In search of looking for a new place to call home, she doesn't necessarily experience anger, but grief, for a life that she could have had peacefully. Now, she's faced with uncertainty - and after years of now living in London, she makes the decision to leave her adoptive home and find a job in Palestine that can only reverse her uncertainty of all the chaos and horror - a job with the Palestinian Authority. Ghada Karmi takes us on her journey of what really goes on behind government doors whilst becoming a renewed -yet native - Palestinian.
⭐️Review: “A hauntingly written, remorselessly honest, and surely long lasting account of Palestinian loss and struggle.” - Donald MacIntyre, Independent
In My Mother's Footsteps: A Palestinian Refugee Returns Home
by Mona Hajjar Halaby
Set in 1948, Jerusalem, between riots and wars, young Zakia is removed from her home by Israeli control. Now living in California and taking the Palestinian narrative, Zakia's daughter Mona lives in Palestine through her mother's memories. This book differs in a unique way - it tells stories through Mona's eyes. She embarks on a visit to Palestine to find her mother's home now militarized, shed from all its purity. Zakia writes letter's of lessons and love to Mona during her stay as she spends her days learning Jerusalem. Mona eventually learns the "new" Jerusalem and is capable of walking her mom through both the past and present. This tender novel might just have you crying by the end of it.
⭐️Review: "Mona took me by the hand through the streets of Jerusalem and brought it to life in a way I’ve never seen before...a timely and important story that will stay with you long after you finish the last page." - Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo‘
The Olive Tree Said to Me
by Naif Salem
A sweet and important story for kids to read - The Olive Tree Said to Me. This beautifully illustrated children's book was published recently and has quickly become an uprising success. The tradition of the olive tree and its importance to Palestine is incredibly timeless. In this book, a young girl takes readers through her journey of learning about olive harvests, its delicacy and mesmerizing beauty. Discover the beauty of Palestine through a young girl's journey as she learns the centuries of traditional olive harvests. (In my professional opinion, it's never too early to start teaching young Palestinian children about the roots of their roots)! Find this hardcover book at Barnes & Noble or Target!
⭐️Review: "While reading ‘Olive Tree Said To Me’ by N. Salem, I found myself spiritually connected to the main character as her love for the trees reminds me of the love I have for my motherland, Palestine. This book also appreciates all that our olive trees provide such as the cool shade on a sunny harvest day, the ability to gather the community, reminders of our rich culture, and of course, the olive oil - or what we what we call, “liquid gold”. I hold this book dear to me as I would love to read this book to my future Palestinian children". - Aminah Musa, cofounder of PaliRoots