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    15 Dabke-Worthy Books By Palestinian Authors

    Grab your coffee and knafeh and snuggle into these Palestinian books!

    I grew up in a household filled with Palestinian culture through literature, folkloric songs and dance, poetry, art, food, and clothing, but it was the stories of my grandmother and my Palestinian immigrant parents that kept me connected to my ancestral homeland. It was these stories that largely influenced my passion for writing, putting my identity as a Muslim Palestinian-American into stories to share with the world. Growing up, I only dreamt of seeing Palestinian authors and
    their books in bookstores. Words are powerful. They are a large part of our history of resistance. 

    Never could I have imagined that I would one day be able to put together a list of well-known Palestinian authored books! It was difficult narrowing them down, but here are 15 illustrious Palestinian authored books, across various genres.

    1. Halal Hot Dogs by Suzannah Aziz, illustrated by Parwinder Singh

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    Little Bee Books

    Genre: Picture book

    Musa’s ready for a less traditionally Arab snack after Jummuah, Friday prayers, and it’s his turn to pick. Halal hot dogs! He quickly discovers that the journey won’t be as easy as he thought. A Muslim Palestinian-American story of family, community, faith, and delicious food! This is a story that everyone will enjoy, but especially every young BIPOC person who has been excited to pick the next fun meal for their family.

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    2. Baba, What Does My Name Mean? A Journey to Palestine by Rifk Ebeid, illustrated by Lamaa Jawhari

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    Tablo Pty Ltd

    Genre: Picture book

    Our names are tied to our identity. As Palestinians, our names hold years of history. Growing up in the West, our names – the way they’re perceived and pronounced as strange and foreign – come with struggles. When Saamidah is asked by her friends about what her name means, she turns to her baba for answers. Rifk Ebeid brings to life the significance of what our names represent, tracing back to our rich Palestinian culture and heritage, at a time when our ancestral land is negatively portrayed in the media. This lyrical story will bring tears to your eyes. You’ll just have to pick up this book to find out the incredible meaning behind Saamidah’s name. 

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    3. The Olive Tree Said to Me by N. Salem

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    Zaytoon Publishing

    Genre: Picture book

    The olive tree is nearly synonymous with the Palestinian land, spirit, and culture. Olive harvest season is cherished by Palestinians, both living under occupation and those living in diaspora. Salem takes us on a journey with Alia as she learns the tradition of the olive harvest in Palestine. This story, representing the importance of family and culture through generations, was very close to my heart. Despite being born and raised in Southern California, every October, I’d travel with my grandmother and mother to pick olives. My teta/sitti would share stories as we prepared the olives together. Forever one of my favorite childhood memories. The olive harvest represents the strength, resilience, and perseverance of the Palestinian struggle. 

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    4. Farah Rocks series by Susan Muaddi Darraj, illustrated by Ruaidas Mannaa

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    Stone Arch Books

    Genre: Middle grade

    The first Palestinian-American middle grade chapter book series! A fun and authentic representation of what it looks like to be a Palestinian-American kid growing up with immigrant parents in the West. Farah, just like any child in middle school, is dealing with school bullies and friendship drama, all while learning about her culture. It’s quite fitting that Farah Hajjar loves rocks! If you know, you know… 

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    5. Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

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    Scholastic

    Genre: Young adult

    I’ll never forget spotting this in my university bookstore. A story about a Muslim Palestinian living in the West (which happens to be Australia) who has decided to start wearing the hijab around the same age that I made the decision to cover. Struggling with her various identities, Amal Abdel-Hakim faces challenges as an Australian teenager just trying to make it through school while also living with her vibrant immigrant family. 

    I laughed. I cried. I bought more copes as a gift for someone I loved.

    Randa Abdel-Fattah, a Palestinian-Egyptian Australian author, will always have a special place in my heart. Side note, this is my favorite cover of this book, which I can’t seem to find anymore. I saw myself in the cover, for the first time at the age of 19. I just had to use it here.

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    6. Don't Read The Comments by Eric Smith

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    Inkyard

    Genre: Young adult

    I never thought I’d get sucked into reading about the gaming world to escape my own reality. For Divya and Aaron, online gaming is their escape and where they find a connection to each other. While Aaron jumps into this world for fun, Divya’s whole life depends on taking care of her mother through her professional gaming. When internet trolls begin to threaten their real world, Divya and Aaron are ready to fight for their dreams and livelihoods, and no one is going to stand in their way.

    Divya’s strength jumps from the page. I was so excited when I read that Aaron Jericho was half-Palestinian and half-Honduran before finding out he shares the exact same background as the author, Eric Smith! And Jericho just happens to be my father’s birthplace in the West Bank, Palestine. 

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    7. Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

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    Bloomsbury

    Genre: Adult fiction

    A heartbreaking story of a family forced out of their home, in an olive-farming village, during the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestine in 1948 and made to live in refugee camps. Only one of millions of refugee stories about the displacement of Palestinians on their own indigenous land. The reader follows Amal as she shares her story interwoven with her family’s story. One of love and loss from childhood to parenthood. Despite tragedy, Abulhawa still finds a way to wrap this story with hope, joy, and courage.

    Mornings in Jenin is a powerful story that takes on fierce topics of identity and history. A heart-wrenching look into the beginning brutal threads of the occupation of Palestine. 

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    8. Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

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    Mariner Books

    Genre: Adult fiction

    Palestinian families are tied through generations of struggle, joy, grief, and trauma. This story is one of loss as Salma’s fears for her daughter and her future become obsolete when the Six-Day War of 1967 displaces the family. A heartbreaking look into the occupation that has lasted for over 73 years into present day history. It is only one story of a refugee family that dreams of being allowed to return home.

    Until return. ✌🏼

    Signed, 

    A Palestinian daughter of immigrants, living in diaspora 

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    9. The Parisian by Isabella Hammad

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    Grove Press

    Genre: Adult fiction

    A debut that caught the world’s interest. Literally. I saw this book on every list, from papers in Europe to The New York Times. If you enjoy historical fiction, the story follows Midhat Kamal on a journey of history, community, and love – for people and a country. The story begins in France, where Midhat moved to study medicine and found love. When he decides to return to his home in Nablus, he finds his beloved country of Palestine under British rule. Hammad takes the reader back to the Ottoman rule and into World War I, following a fictionalized view on the underlying defining moments of today’s strife across the Middle East. 

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    10. Jasmine Falling by Sheeren Malherbe

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    Createspace

    Genre: Adult fiction

    A magical whirlwind look into family, community, and life under an illegal occupation in present day history. The death of Jasmine’s mother leaves her with a hefty inheritance. Of course, there’s a catch. Unearth the mystery of her father’s disappearance or lose the inheritance. She leaves the comfort of her home in England and journeys into The Holy Land, her father’s homeland: Palestine, for answers that she could have never imagined.

    For any Palestinian living in diaspora, there is a strong connection and understanding of being inspired to write about our ancestral homeland after the experience of returning home. Through this story of Jasmine reconnecting with her cultural roots, this story presents a powerful portrayal of the Palestinian people and their spirit and resilience. 

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    11. The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah

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    W.W. Norton & Co

    Genre: Adult fiction

    As a daughter of Muslim Palestinian-American immigrants, Afaf Rahman’s story is both heartwarming and heart wrenchingly familiar. Torn between identities in a country that aides in denying our existence, one where being Muslim and Palestinian each come with their own struggles.

    Every Muslim living in America has had the fear that someone radicalized by the misconceptions supported by the media and hate that the alt-right spews will one day bring harm to our communities. Our community faces tragedy after tragedy across the nation. Every Islamic center now has security, but that hasn’t stopped hate crimes from happening. Afaf faces one of the worst: a shooter at the Islamic school where she’s a principal. The reader is taken on two journeys, the present day shooting and Afaf’s past growing up as a Muslim and Palestinian in the West. We witness her pain and her joy as she finds her path back to her family, community, and faith. 

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    12. Secrets Under the Olive Tree by Nevien Shaabneh

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    Nortia Press

    Genre: Adult fiction

    A story of loss and hope, intertwined with culture and faith, Nevien Shaabneh takes the reader into what it looks like to balance belonging. As a Muslim and Arab-American, too often we find stories written about our communities that lean into all the misconceptions and stereotypes. While I still find this true of most stories, Shaabaneh pulls from a variety of different authentic narratives to give us a beautiful story through Layla’s eyes.

    With the perfect name for this debut, we are taken on a journey of a young girl who travels from her home torn by apartheid and occupation to the city of Chicago, where she must find a balance between acculturation versus assimilation. Shedding a light on the lives of Arab women in our culture and the norms that shape their lives and futures. A struggle between self-worth and acceptance, you’ll be left wanting more of Layla’s story. 

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    13. Her Night with the Duke by Diana Quincy

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    Avon

    Genre: Romance

    Never in my life would I have thought that I would include romance on my list of books, but never say never. This goes out to all my romance reading friends who made sure Diana Quincy was on my radar. They did not disappoint.

    If you’re into deliciously passionate stories full of beautiful and handsome characters, secrets, passionate affairs that must never be spoken aloud, and family drama, then you need this Palestinian-authored romance series!

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    14. Why Did You Leave The Horse Alone? by Mahmoud Darwish

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    Archipelago Books

    Genre: Poetry

    If you know anything at all about Palestinian literature, then you must know Mahmoud Darwish. The most famous Palestinian poet connecting all generations, those living in Palestine and those living in diaspora – including refugees and immigrants. All longing for the homeland in their struggle for justice.

    This book of poetry is special and is considered to be an intimate autobiography of the indigenous people of Palestine. Their hope, fears, struggle, resilience. Darwish’s symbolism is understood worldwide. Powerful, beautiful, and heartbreaking. My parents brought back this book of poems for me as a gift when they visited the Mahmoud Darwish Museum in Ramallah, Palestine. A treasured book in my home library.

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

    15. Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine by Noura Erakat

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    Stanford University Press

    Genre: Nonfiction

    If you follow the political sphere or historical circles focused on the Middle East, then you must know Noura Erekat. Human rights attorney, professor, political commentator, and writer, Noura Erekat has been a fierce inspiration and voice of empowerment in the movement for justice and liberation.

    It seemed only fitting to include a book that will provide a strong and powerful understanding of the history and laws surrounding an occupied country that inspired this list of books. 

    Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie through Indiebound here.

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