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Arts & Culture


Holidays: 5 Arab books to read over the summer

Summer is finally here! A time for rest and relaxation. On the beach, by the pool, or on the sunny terrace of a restaurant, what better way to get away from it all than to take a literary plunge into a little-known culture?

Before setting off for your favourite destination, how about stopping off at your favourite bookshop with this list of five Arabic books that might just become your travelling companions?

1 – “The Yacoubian Building” by Alaa Al Aswany

Set in Cairo, Egypt, this novel offers a vivid portrayal of contemporary Egyptian society through the lives of the diverse residents of a once-grand apartment building.


Alaa al Aswany

2 – “Season of Migration to the North” by Tayeb Salih

This classic Sudanese novel explores the complex themes of colonialism, cultural identity, and the clash between East and West. It tells the story of Mustafa Sa’eed, a Sudanese man who moves to England and becomes entangled in a series of tragic events.


Tayeb Salih

3 – “The Queue” by Basma Abdel Aziz

Set in an unnamed Middle Eastern city, this dystopian novel depicts a society ruled by a faceless authority. It follows the lives of individuals waiting in an endless queue to petition a mysterious Gate for official approvals and permits.


Basma Abdel Aziz

4 – “Palace Walk” by Naguib Mahfouz

The first volume of Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy, this book provides a captivating portrait of an Egyptian family in the early 20th century. It explores the tensions between tradition and modernity and the impact of political and social change on individuals.


Naguib Mahfouz

5 – “I, the Divine, A Novel in First Chapters” by Rabih Alameddine

This unconventional and humorous novel follows Sarah Nour El-Din, a Lebanese-American woman, as she attempts to write her memoirs. Through a series of first chapters, she unveils her life and the challenges of cultural, personal, and familial identity.


Rabih Alameddine


See also

3 romantic epics that shaped Arab literature

Published on 7 July 2023

#Arab world