Scroll down to see the books in this category.
These collections of books have been assembled from many sources of recommended reading on Israel/Palestine, including: the United Church of Christ (UCC) and UCC PIN, Sabeel, Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP) and others.
Presented in the following categories on individual pages:
• About/By Palestinian Christians
• Religion; The Bible; Christian Zionism
• Personal Histories: Memoirs, Autobiographies
• Political Analysis; Diplomatic History
• The Current Situation
• Activism; Resistance; Solidarity; Intersectional Justice
• Novels; Short Stories; Poetry
• About Palestinians inside Israel
• Zionism; Jewish Identity
• Faith Relations; Anti-Semitism
• Visual Arts; Crafts (poetry moved to new list)
• Tourism; The Politics of Tourism
• Children’s Books
Please note: some books are listed in more than one category.
Please send us your suggestions for additions to these lists; contact us at [email protected].
The order of the books within each category is random and is not related to the importance of the work.
Mornings in Jenin
By Susan Abulhawa
Mornings in Jenin is a multi-generational story about a Palestinian family. Forcibly removed from the olive-farming village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejos are displaced to live in canvas tents in the Jenin refugee camp. We follow the Abulhejo family as they live through a half century of violent history. Amidst the loss and fear, hatred and pain, as their tents are replaced by more forebodingly permanent cinderblock huts, there is always the waiting, waiting to return to a lost home. The novel’s voice is that of Amal, the granddaughter of the old village patriarch, a bright, sensitive girl who makes it out of the camps, only to return years later, to marry and bear a child. Through her eyes, with her evolving vision, we get the story of her brothers, one who is kidnapped to be raised Jewish, one who will end with bombs strapped to his middle.
But of the many interwoven stories, stretching backward and forward in time, none is more important than Amal’s own. Her story is one of love and loss, of childhood and marriage and parenthood, and finally the need to share her history with her daughter, to preserve the greatest love she has. Set against one of the twentieth century’s most intractable political conflicts, Mornings in Jenin is a deeply human novel – a novel of history, identity, friendship, love, terrorism, surrender, courage, and hope. Its power forces us to take a fresh look at one of the defining conflicts of our lifetimes.
By Rula Jebreal
Written by the much-admired Italo-Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal, Miral is a novel that focuses on remarkable women whose lives unfold in the turbulent political climate along the borders of Israel and Palestine. The story begins with Hind, a woman who sacrifices everything to establish a school for refugee Palestinian girls in East Jerusalem. Years later Miral arrives at the school after her mother commits suicide. Hind sees that Miral has the potential to change the world peacefully – but Miral is appalled by the injustice that surrounds her, and flirts with the notion of armed resistance. Hind desperately works to persuade her to stay the course of education, hard work, and non-violent resolution-but is she too late? [This novel has been made into a movie.]
By Yizhar Smilansky
It’s 1948 and the Arab villagers of Khirbet Khizeh are about to be violently expelled from their homes. A young Israeli soldier who is on duty that day finds himself battling on two fronts: with the villagers and, ultimately, with his own conscience. Published just months after the founding of the state of Israel and the end of the 1948 war, the novella Khirbet Khizeh was an immediate sensation when it first appeared. Since then, the book has continued to challenge and disturb, even finding its way onto the school curriculum in Israel. The various debates it has prompted would themselves make Khirbet Khizeh worth reading, but the novella is much more than a vital historical document: it is also a great work of art. Yizhar’s haunting, lyrical style and charged view of the landscape are in many ways as startling as his wrenchingly honest view of modern Israel’s primal scene. Considered a modern Hebrew masterpiece, Khirbet Khizeh is an extraordinary and heartbreaking book that is destined to be a classic of world literature.
Gate of the Sun
By Elias Khoury
Gate of the Sun is the first magnum opus of the Palestinian saga. After their country is torn apart in 1948, two men remain alone in a deserted makeshift hospital in the Shatila camp on the outskirts of Beirut. We enter a vast world of displacement, fear, and tenuous hope. Khalil holds vigil at the bedside of his patient and spiritual father, a storied leader of the Palestinian resistance who has slipped into a coma. As Khalil attempts to revive Yunes, he begins a story, which branches into many. Stories of the people expelled from their villages in Galilee, of the massacres that followed, of the extraordinary inner strength of those who survived, and of love. Khalil—like Elias Khoury—is a truth collector, trying to make sense of the fragments and various versions of stories that have been told to him. His voice is intimate and direct, his memories are vivid, his humanity radiates from every page. Khalil lets his mind wander through time, from village to village, from one astonishing soul to another, and takes us with him. Gate of the Sun is a Palestinian Odyssey. Beautifully weaving together haunting stories of survival and loss, love and devastation, memory and dream, Khoury humanizes the complex Palestinian struggle as he brings to life the story of an entire people.
by Colum McCann
From the National Book Award–winning and bestselling author of Let the Great World Spin comes an epic novel rooted in the unlikely real-life friendship between two fathers.
Bassam Aramin is Palestinian. Rami Elhanan is Israeli. They inhabit a world of conflict thatcolors every aspect of their lives, from the roads they are allowed to drive on to the schoolstheir children attend to the checkpoints, both physical and emotional, they must negotiate.
But their lives, however circumscribed, are upended one after the other: first, Rami’sthirteen-year-old daughter, Smadar, becomes the victim of suicide bombers; a decade later,Bassam’s ten-year-old daughter, Abir, is killed by a rubber bullet. Rami and Bassam had beenraised to hate one another. And yet, when they learn of each other’s stories, they recognizethe loss that connects them. Together they attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace—and with their one small act, start to permeate what has for generations seemed animpermeable conflict.
This extraordinary novel is the fruit of a seed planted when the novelist Colum McCann metthe real Bassam and Rami on a trip with the non-profit organization Narrative 4. McCannwas moved by their willingness to share their stories with the world, by their hope that if theycould see themselves in one another, perhaps others could too. With their blessing, and unprecedented access to their families, lives, and personalrecollections, McCann began to craft Apeirogon, which uses their real-life stories to beginanother—one that crosses centuries and continents, stitching together time, art, history,nature, and politics in a tale both heartbreaking and hopeful. The result is an ambitious novel, crafted out of a universe of fictional and nonfictional material, with these fathers’moving story at its heart.
“A quite extraordinary novel. Colum McCann has foundthe form and voice to tell the most complex of stories, with an unexpected friendship betweentwo men at its powerfully beating heart.”—Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire
New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the National Jewish Book Award
Named one of the best books of the year by The Independent, The New York Public Library, and Library Journal
by Hala Alyan
Alyan’s debut novel explores a Palestinian family caught between present and past, between displacement and home.
On the eve of her daughter Alia’s wedding, Salma reads the girl’s future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children; she also sees travel, and luck. While she chooses to keep her predictions to herself that day, they will all soon come to pass when the family is uprooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967.
Salma is forced to leave her home in Nablus; Alia’s brother gets pulled into a politically militarized world he can’t escape; and Alia and her gentle-spirited husband move to Kuwait City, where they reluctantly build a life with their three children. When Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in 1990, Alia and her family once again lose their home, their land, and their story as they know it, scattering to Beirut, Paris, Boston, and beyond. Soon Alia’s children begin families of their own, once again navigating the burdens (and blessings) of assimilation in foreign cities.
Lyrical and heartbreaking, Salt Houses is a remarkable debut novel that challenges and humanizes an age-old conflict we might think we understand—one that asks us to confront that most devastating of all truths: you can’t go home again.
“This timely historical does for the Palestinians what Khaled Hosseini did for the people of Afghanistan. By placing readers inside the hearts and minds of one Arab family scattered from Paris to Boston to Lebanon, she beautifully illustrates the resilience of the human spirit.”
“Alyan’s impressive first novel tracks the dispersal of four generations of a Palestinian family…The Yacoubs’ distinctly personal experiences will mirror the experiences of immigrants and refugees around the world and the Palestinians’ dislocation in particular…. Unexpected, deeply moving…this journey is well worth taking.”
“Salt Houses is a piercingly elegant novel that registers Palestine with deep resonance for what it is: a once beloved home, known, lost, and re-imagined into life. A place where families decide between security and happiness, religion and heritage, where war is constant, yet peace is found. In the exquisite prose of a poet, Hala Alyan shows how we carry our origins in our hearts wherever we may roam, and how that history is calibrated by the places we choose to put down roots. This is a book with the power to both break and mend your heart.”
—Ru Freeman, author of On Sal Mal Lane
By Isabella Hammad
A masterful debut novel by Plimpton Prize winner Isabella Hammad, The Parisian illuminates a pivotal period of Palestinian history through the journey and romances of one young man, from his studies in France during World War I to his return to Palestine at the dawn of its battle for independence.
Midhat Kamal is the son of a wealthy textile merchant from Nablus, a town in Ottoman Palestine. A dreamer, a romantic, an aesthete, in 1914 he leaves to study medicine in France, and falls in love. When Midhat returns to Nablus to find it under British rule, and the entire region erupting with nationalist fervor, he must find a way to cope with his conflicting loyalties and the expectations of his community.
The story of Midhat’s life develops alongside the idea of a nation, as he and those close to him confront what it means to strive for independence in a world that seems on the verge of falling apart. Against a landscape of political change that continues to define the Middle East, The Parisian explores questions of power and identity, enduring love, and the uncanny ability of the past to disrupt the present.
Lush and immersive, and devastating in its power, The Parisian is an elegant, richly imagined debut from a dazzling new voice in fiction.
Winner of the 2019 Palestine Book Award
A New York Times Notable Book of 2019
A 2019 Barnes & Noble Discover Selection
One of Vogue’s Best Novels of 2019
One of Amazon’s Best Books of 2019
“Dazzling… A deeply imagined historical novel with none of the usual cobwebs of the genre… The Parisian has an up-close immediacy and stylistic panache… that are all the more impressive coming from a London-born writer still in her 20s… Exquisite.”―New York Times Book Review
“Assured and captivating… Ms. Hammad’s acute evocation of place and personality ensures that we are never lost… This agile writer sets us firmly in place, fixing our attention on intersecting lives.”―Wall Street Journal
“Stunning…a lush rendering of Palestinian life a century ago under the British mandate and a sumptuous epic about the enduring nature of love.”―Vogue
“Hammad uses the features of historical novels to cut through the familiar dichotomies of West and Near East, placing her protagonist in a rich web of families, political intrigues, and cultural exchanges, and subtly reconfiguring the literary tropes of ‘home’ and ‘abroad.'”―New Yorker
“Epic… Because the book takes place in the complicated time and spaces that it does, the narrative grapples with sociopolitical concerns as well as it does the intimate, human ones. It sweeps you along.”―Vanity Fair
“Superb… Elegantly controlled…The Parisian makes history, and its actors, live once again.”―Boston Globe
The Other End of the Sea
By Alison Glick
A stirring story of love discovered in unexpected places, growing us beyond who we thought we were—or imagined we could become
Summer, 1981—Following the death of her father, Becky Klein, an adventurous, naive young woman from the Midwest, sets out for the Middle East, in search of her Jewish roots. She discovers something more, in a Gaza garden near a refugee camp by the sea. There she befriends the garden’s owner, a Palestinian activist who has served time in Israeli jails. As their relationship grows, Rebecca finds herself drawn into a story of roots unlike the one she had imagined.
The West Bank, Cairo, Yarmouk, Benghazi—before long, their romance careens across a region in flames, child in tow, wrestling with conflicting maps of love, family and home.
Moving, yet brimming with flashes of humor, Alison Glick’s tangle with the search for purpose and commitment yields a bracing, radiant story for these times.
A Bird is Not a Stone: An Anthology of Contemporary Palestinian Poetry
Henry Bell and Sarah Irving (Editors)
A major collection of contemporary Palestinian poetry translated by 25 of Scotland’s very best writers including Don Paterson, Jackie Kay, James Robertson, Jen Hadfield, Kathleen Jamie, Vicki Feaver, Alasdair Gray, Douglas Dunn, and Andrew Greig.
“A Bird is Not a Stone is a fabulous, landmark collection, an example of poetry’s ability to transcend borders, cultures and languages in order to celebrate our shared humanity.” — Carol Ann Duffy, British Poet Laureate
“It is no surprise that great art is born out of its suffering . . . Therefore this exquisite book of poems must be all the more welcomed—by all those who love art, who would denounce oppression, and who want to read the songs of those living behind the wall.” —Emma Thompson, Oscar-winning actor
My First and Only Love
by Sahar Khalifeh
A deeply poetic account of love and resistance through a young girl’s eyes by acclaimed writer, Sahar Khalifeh, called “the Virginia Woolf of Palestinian literature” (Börsenblatt)
Nidal, after many decades of restless exile, returns to her family home in Nablus, where she had lived with her grandmother before the 1948 Nakba that scattered her family across the globe. She was a young girl when the popular resistance began and, through the bloodshed and bitter struggle, Nidal fell in love with freedom fighter Rabie. He was her first and only real love―him and all that he represented: Palestine in its youth, the resistance fighters in the hills, the nation as embodied in her family home and in the land.
Many years later, Nidal and Rabie meet, and he encourages her to read her uncle Amin’s memoirs. She immerses herself in the details of her family and national past and discovers the secret history of her absent mother.
Filled with emotional urgency and political immediacy, Sahar Khalifeh spins an epic tale reaching from the final days of the British Mandate to today with clear-eyed realism and great imagination.
You Can Be the Last Leaf: Selected Poems
By Maya Abu Al-Hayyat
Translated by Aida Bamia
Translated from the Arabic and introduced by Fady Joudah, You Can Be the Last Leaf draws on two decades of work to present the transcendent and timely US debut of Palestinian poet Maya Abu Al-Hayyat.
Art. Garlic. Taxis. Sleepy soldiers at checkpoints. The smell of trash on a winter street, before “our wild rosebush, neglected / by the gate, / blooms.” Lovers who don’t return, the possibility that you yourself might not return. Making beds. Cleaning up vomit. Reading recipes. In You Can Be the Last Leaf, these are the ordinary and profound—sometimes tragic, sometimes dreamy, sometimes almost frivolous—moments of life under Israeli occupation.
Here, private and public domains are inseparable. Desire, loss, and violence permeate the walls of the home, the borders of the mind. And yet that mind is full of its own fierce and funny voice, its own preoccupations and strangenesses. “It matters to me,” writes Abu Al-Hayyat, “what you’re thinking now / as you coerce your kids to sleep / in the middle of shelling”: whether it’s coming up with “plans / to solve the world’s problems,” plans that “eliminate longing from stories, remove exhaustion from groans,” or dreaming “of a war / that’s got no war in it,” or proclaiming that “I don’t believe in survival.”
In You Can Be the Last Leaf, Abu Al-Hayyat has created a richly textured portrait of Palestinian interiority—at once wry and romantic, worried and tenacious, and always singing itself.
A River Dies of Thirst
By Mahmoud Darwish
This remarkable collection of poems, meditations, fragments, and journal entries was the last volume to come out in Arabic by Mahmour Darwish, the poet laureate of Palestine. This River is at once lyrical and philosophical, questioning and wise, full of irony, resistance, and play. Darwish’s musings on unrest and loss dwell on love and humanity; myth and dream are inseparable from truth. Throughout this personal collection, Darwish returns frequently to his ongoing and often lighthearted conversation with death. A River Dies of Thirst is a collection of quiet revelations, embracing poetry, life, death, love, and the human condition.
The Butterfly’s Burden
By Mahmoud Darwish
“Mahmoud Darwish is the Essential Breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging, exquisitely tuned singer of images that invoke, link, and shine a brilliant light into the world’s whole heart. What he speaks has been embraced by readers around the world—his in an utterly necessary voice, unforgettable once discovered.”—Naomi Shihab Nye
Mahmoud Darwish is the leading poet in the Arab world, an artist and activist who attracts thousands to his public readings.
The Butterfly’s Burden combines the complete text of Darwish’s two most recent full-length volumes, linked by the stunning memoir-witness poem “A State of Siege.” Love poems, sonnets, journal-like distillations, and interlaced lyrics balance old literary traditions with new forms, highlighting loving reflections alongside bitter longing.
Mahmoud Darwish is the author of 30 books of poetry and prose, as well as the Palestinian Declaration of Independence. He has worked as a journalist, was director of the Palestinian Research Center, and lived in exile until his return to Palestine in 1996. He has received many international awards for his poetry.
Unfortunately, It Was Paradise
By Mahmoud Darwish
Mahmoud Darwish is a literary rarity: at once critically acclaimed as one of the most important poets in the Arabic language, and beloved as the voice of his people. A legend in Palestine, his lyrics are sung by fieldworkers and schoolchildren. He has assimilated some of the world’s oldest literary traditions while simultaneously struggling to open new possibilities for poetry. This collection spans Darwish’s entire career, nearly four decades, revealing an impressive range of expression and form. A splendid team of translators has collaborated with the poet on these new translations, which capture Darwish’s distinctive voice and spirit. Fady Joudah’s foreword, new to this edition, addresses Darwish’s enduring legacy following his death in 2008.