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Diverse Books

The Best Books To Read for Arab American Heritage Month

Celebrate with books that provide cultural insight and powerful commentary.

Last Updated on March 29, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle

arab american heritage month books

April is Arab American Heritage Month, and it is important for us to honor the contributions of Arab Americans whose work has contributed to the diversity and richness of our nation.  Because we are book people, we’ve decided to put together a book list as a starting point to help us celebrate.  From thought-provoking and eye-opening novels, nonfiction books, and even a cookbook, there are books written by Arab American authors that provide cultural insight and powerful commentary on what it means to be an Arab American today. So here are some thought-provoking and inspiring books honoring National Arab American Heritage Month!

Arab American Heritage Month Books to Read

  • Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj
  • The Skin and Its Girl by Sarah Cypher
  • Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H
  • War and Me by Faleeha Hassan, Translated by William Hutchins
  • Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa
  • An Unlasting Home  by Mai Al-Nakib
  • Between Two Moons by Aisha Abdel Gawad
  • A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
  • Arabiyya : Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora by Reem Assil
  • You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
  • The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah
  • The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman : The Arabic Epic of Dhat al-Himma Edited by Melanie Magidow
  • Love Is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar
  • The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous, Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette
  • Conditional Citizens : On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami
  • The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar
Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Explores the lives of the residents in a Palestinian-American community in Baltimore, delving into the intersecting dynamics of class, religion, and cultural stereotypes.

BUY FROM: AMAZON or BOOKSHOP

P.S. Click here to listen to my chat with Susan on The Reader’s Couch podcast.

The Skin and Its Girl by Sarah Cypher

The Skin and Its Girl by Sarah Cypher

A young, queer Palestinian American woman pieces together her great aunt’s secrets in this sweeping debut, a family saga confronting questions of sexual identity, exile, and lineage.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

P.S. Click here to watch Sarah share more about her book at the Epigraph Literary Festival.

Hijab Butch Blues, A Memoir by Lamya H

Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H

This memoir follows Lamya H, a queer hijabi Muslim immigrant, as she navigates her coming-of-age. Struggling with her attraction to a female teacher and feeling out of place after moving from South Asia to the Middle East, Lamya finds strength and understanding in the Quran. She draws parallels between her experiences and Quranic stories, exploring her identity and seeking acceptance. Through her journey, Lamya seeks to reconcile her faith with her queerness, finding community and belonging by embracing her identity. This story of courage and self-discovery celebrates the power of being true to oneself.

BUY ON: AMAZON or BOOKSHOP

P.S. Click here to listen to my chat with Lamya on The Reader’s Couch podcast.

War and Me A Memoir by Faleeha Hassan

War and Me by Faleeha Hassan, Translated by William Hutchins

Faleeha Hassan’s memoir unveils her journey of coming of age in war-torn Iraq within a close-knit working-class family. Facing loss and fear in Najaf, she recounts breaking societal norms to connect with her fighting family members and her resilient spirit throughout. Later, after moving to the US, Faleeha emphasizes education and finds strength in her enduring family bonds amidst ongoing conflict. Her story is a testament to endurance and offers a unique glimpse into life in the Middle East, highlighting the indestructible nature of familial love against the backdrop of war.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

P.S. Click here to read my author feature with Faleeha.

Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa

Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa

A sweeping and lyrical novel that follows a young Palestinian refugee as she slowly becomes radicalized while searching for a better life for her family throughout the Middle East.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

An Unlasting Home  by Mai Al-Nakib

An Unlasting Home  by Mai Al-Nakib

The debut novel from an award-winning short story writer: a multigenerational saga spanning Lebanon, Iraq, India, the United States, and Kuwait that brings to life the triumphs and failures of three generations of Arab women.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

Between Two Moons by Aisha Abdel Gawad

Between Two Moons by Aisha Abdel Gawad

Set in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, during Ramadan, Between Two Moons follows twin sisters Amira and Lina as they navigate the challenges of graduating high school and planning for a summer of freedom. Their plans are disrupted by their older brother’s return from prison, causing family tensions. Meanwhile, community unrest and violence threaten to divide their neighborhood. Amidst the backdrop of Islamophobia, the story explores themes of faith, family, and identity, challenging readers to examine their assumptions about being young and Muslim in America.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum

Tells the story of three generations of Palestinian-American women struggling to express their individual desires within the confines of their Arab culture in the wake of shocking intimate violence in their community.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

Arabiyya : Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora by Reem Assil

Arabiyya : Recipes from the Life of an Arab in Diaspora by Reem Assil

A collection of 100 bright, bold recipes influenced by the vibrant flavors and convivial culture of the Arab world, filled with moving personal essays on food, family, and identity mixed with a pinch of California cool, from chef and activist Reem Assil.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat

A novel of desire and doubleness that follows the life of a young Palestinian American woman caught between cultural, religious, and sexual identities as she endeavors to lead an authentic life.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah

The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah

Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter―radicalized by the online alt-right―attacks the school. As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories and into a profound exploration of one woman’s life in a nation at odds with its ideals.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman : The Arabic Epic of Dhat al-Himma Edited by Melanie Magidow

The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman : The Arabic Epic of Dhat al-Himma Edited by Melanie Magidow

Published in English for the first time, and the only Arabic epic named for a woman, The Tale of Princess Fatima recounts the thrilling adventures of a legendary medieval warrior universally known throughout the Middle East and long overdue to join world literature’s pantheon of female heroes.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

Love Is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar

Love Is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar

Queer. Muslim. Arab American. A proudly Fat woman. Randa Jarrar is all of these things. In this provocative memoir of a cross-country road trip, she explores how to claim joy in an unraveling and hostile America.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous, Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette

The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous, Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette

**Finalist for the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction** A timely and haunting novel that is a boundary-blurring, radical examination of the effects of oppression on one’s sense of identity, the effects of collective trauma, and a moving window into life inside Assad’s Syria.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

Conditional Citizens : On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami

Conditional Citizens : On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami

The acclaimed, award-winning novelist—author of The Moor’s Account and The Other Americans—now gives us a bracingly personal work of nonfiction that is concerned with the experiences of “conditional citizens.”

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar

The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar

A moving and lyrical novel following three generations of Syrian Americans who are linked by a mysterious species of bird and the truths they carry close to their hearts.

BUY FROM: AMAZON OR BOOKSHOP

What do you think about this list of books for Arab American Heritage Month?

Have you read any of these books?  Are any of them on your TBR?  What books on the Arab or Arab American experience would you add to this list?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Books To Read for Arab American Heritage Month

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