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3 Books to understand the growing changes in the Middle East

The Middle East has a long history of storytelling and world-renowned literary works. Today, the translation of Arabic texts has rightfully gained momentum, allowing the rest of us to join in on the reading. With a growing interconnection between readers from all corners of the world, many Arabic authors have published their books in several languages. After a terribly difficult selection, here are three freshly released books written by Middle Eastern authors, on the region, that you do not want to miss. Passing through a tumultuous period, these books all tackled head on the changing political landscape of the region.

The Clash of Values, Mansoor Moaddel (March 2020)



If you are looking for a condensed, up-to-the-minute take on the Middle East’s ongoing transitional period since the shakeup of the Arab Spring, look no further. Moaddel regroups 60,000 face-to-face interviews of people in seven countries: Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey. The clash? Islamic fundamentalism and liberal nationalism. The author, and professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, contends that MENA countries are consciously choosing to shift towards liberal nationalism and away from political Islam. The sociological data underlines the Arab Springs unfolding of a new phase of collective action, rooted in the quest for individual liberty.

The Struggle for Modern Turkey, Sabiha Sertel (June 2019)



If you want to offer a rare perspective on Turkey’s tumultuous history, here it is. In its first-ever translation into English, this intimate work from Turkey’s first professional female journalist comes back to life, now accessible to curious readers around the globe. This latest version holds a precious new introduction and comprehensive annotations..Sertel offers a first-hand insider account of the divisions over the republic’s constitution, fearlessly covering issues of freedom of the press, women’s rights and the pre-WWII discussions with European leaders about Hitler’s rising power.


The Return to the Past, Uzi Rabi (November 2019)


This book digs deeper into the often simplified analysis of the Arab Spring’s impact in the societal, political and historical spheres of the Middle East. Rabi does not shy away from breaking down the complex, and ever changing transnational and subnational identities of the Arabic people, arguing that they have always, and will continue to impact the politics of the region.


See also

5 Arabic books to be translated in 2020

Published on 12 March 2020