There are, perhaps, few places as complex, troubled, and beautiful as Palestine. Roiled by colonial aggression, armed conflict, and terrorist activities for decades, this part of the Middle East has known little peace, but its people continue to strive to maintain their culture, religion, and history.
Despite living in what most would consider wartime conditions, Palestinian artists have produced some impressive works from visual arts and theater, to film and literature. Classics like the memoir My Father Was A Freedom Fighter or the lyrical novel Morning in Jenin should be required reading for anyone hoping to understand the Palestinian people.
However, we’ve curated a short list of some of the very best and most recent Palestinian works. The Booksio Blog has selected a collection of short stories, a graphic novel, a memoir, a book of poetry, and a beautiful novel all published in the last few years. We encourage you to pick one up and learn more about Palestine, its people, and its stories.
The most recent work by the author of Morning in Jenin, this beautiful and darkly funny novel, Abullhawa tells the story of Nahr, a young Palestinian woman, who fights for a better life for her family travelling as a refugee throughout the Middle East. Living through poverty, prostitution, and prison, Nahr maintains subversive humor and moral ambiguity that readers will love..
Chronicling stories of family, of community, of Gaza, of the West Bank, of Jerusalem, of Palestine through his striking linocut artwork, Mohammad Sabaaneh helps us to see Palestinians not as political symbols, but as people. As a testament to intergenerational trauma and memory, these graphic visuals are a triumph
Diagnosed with lymphoma in his late forties, Palestinian author Hussein Barghouthi decides to return to his childhood village and decides to build a house where he would live with his wife and son, in whom he sees a renewal of life. A bittersweet meditation on life, death, and the concept of home, this memoir will remain with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
A city full of contradictions and chock full of beautifully chaotic life, Ramallah is the center for this short story collection which recounts the quiet dignity, resilience, and humor of the city’s people; citizens who take their lives into their hands every time they travel, who continue to live through countless sieges, and yet still find the time, and resourcefulness, to create.
In this lyrical and revolutionary book of poetry, El-Kurd recounts the life of his grandmother Rifqa. Through her story and his own razor-sharp wit and glistening moral clarity, El-Kurd lays bare the brutality of settler colonialism. His poems trace Rifqa’s exile from Haifa to his family’s current dispossession in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem.
No matter which book you choose, reading about the Palestinian people will give you a greater sense of their region’s complexity, the resilience of their communities, and the beauty of their stories.