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Topic: Fiction set in the Middle East

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Subject: Fiction set in the Middle East
Date Posted: 1/29/2011 1:33 PM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2009
Posts: 41
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I am looking for suggestions of books that are set in the Middle East and that give the reader a sense of the cultural, political, religious, and social realities of life there.  Primarily interested in Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon ... but really anything in the Middle East interests me. 

If anyone else is interested in this topic, I do have one recommendation:  Cry of the Dove, by Fadia Faqir, set in Jordan.


Date Posted: 1/29/2011 4:19 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,505
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I would recommend these:

Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini

Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini

The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther

Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki

I know you are interested in fiction, but I have to recommend this memoir:  Persian Girls by Nahid Rachlin.  Rachlin was born in Iran.  This is an incredibly book.

Edited to add:  Have you read Views from the Garden City by Carolyn Baugh?  It is set in Eqypt.  It's about an American student who goes to Eqypt.  She then tells the stories of the women she has come in contact with.  I found it quite moving.

Last Edited on: 1/29/11 4:28 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/30/2011 6:48 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2006
Posts: 1,366
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WOLF DREAMS by Yasmina Khadra

MOUNTOLINE by Lawrence Durrell

ARABIAN SANDS by Wilfred Thesiges

SEASON OF BETRAYEL by Margaret Lowrie Robertson

Date Posted: 1/30/2011 7:36 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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First, although they are  NOT fiction, I heartily recommend Women and Gender in Islam, by Leila Ahmed; Between Memory and Desire, by R. Stephen HumphreysThe Trouble with Islam, by Marjit Irhan; and  The Bookseller of Kabul, by Asne Seierstad.

Fiction recommendations: Women of Sand and Myrrh, by Hanan Al-Shaykh; Birds Without Wings, by Louis De Bernieres; Sweetness in the Belly, by Camilla Gibb;  The Swallows of Kabul, by Yasmina Khadra; The Storyteller's Daughter, by Saira Shah; My Name Is Red and Snow, by Orhan Pamuk; Arabesques, by Anton Shamass; novels by Amos Oz; and Three Days and a Child, by Abraham Yehoshua.

*Gibb is not primarily a novelist, but an anthropologist, but I believe you will be absorbed into this book.   Pamuk  (Turkey) was the  winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006.

Last Edited on: 1/30/11 7:40 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 1/31/2011 8:59 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 1,438
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Last Edited on: 6/30/15 10:26 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/31/2011 1:46 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 422
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I read these recently and enjoyed them:

The Collaborator of Bethlehem: An Omar Yussef Mystery by Matt Benyon Rees

Damascus Nights by Rafik Schami



Date Posted: 1/31/2011 3:26 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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Exodus by Leon Uris - about the founding of the state of Israel.

Date Posted: 2/1/2011 7:55 AM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2009
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Thank you so much!  I just ordered several of these!

Date Posted: 2/5/2011 2:08 AM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 6
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I'm not sure which time period interests you.

Regardless I reccommend this book: What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East

It gives an overall survey of that region and helps Westerners to grasp the mind set / world view of that people. The author is well respected.

Date Posted: 2/5/2011 10:25 AM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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He writes about Turkey, but also much about Islam and fundamentalism and history - Ohran Pamuk, the recent Nobel laureate.  He's a beautiful writer. His book Snow may be of interest.

Date Posted: 2/5/2011 7:41 PM ET
Member Since: 9/8/2009
Posts: 621
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"The Bookseller of Kabul" by Asne Seierstad


Date Posted: 2/6/2011 1:59 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2006
Posts: 3,119
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I also will be adding to my list. Some of them I have read and some I haven't.

Date Posted: 2/6/2011 2:09 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2006
Posts: 3,119
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I also will be adding to my list. Some of them I have read and some I haven't.

Subject: Israeli Book
Date Posted: 2/6/2011 4:15 PM ET
Member Since: 12/30/2010
Posts: 3
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Delightful book - David Grossman's ZIG ZAG KID

Date Posted: 2/26/2011 11:11 AM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2011
Posts: 420
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The Haj by Leon Uris - superior novel

Date Posted: 2/26/2011 6:03 PM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2006
Posts: 236
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I second the Leon Uris recommendations, he's a great story teller, I've enjoyed and learned from every one of his books.  I'd also add Herman Wouk's The Hope and The Glory (2 books, not one title) about the early days of the modern state of Israel, they are excellent, fiction but full of historical figures and based in fact and they explain much about the current situation in the area.

Cheers, Margaret 

Date Posted: 2/26/2011 10:48 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,550
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close_2.gifVeiled Journey   Nell Brien

I thought this was another romance until I read the first chapter.  Facinating story of an American doctor in Saudia Arabia and what she learns about the lives of women and the culture. 

Subject: Istanbul and Cairo
Date Posted: 3/4/2011 8:28 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2009
Posts: 332
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If you like mysteries, you might try Barbara Nadel's series about modern Istanbul, starting with Belshazzar's Daughgter. For a somewhat bizarre view of modern Cairo, there are Mehmet Murat Somer's mysteries starring a transvestite nightclub owner. For Cairo just before World War I, Michael Pearce's Mamur Zapt series is wonderful, with a dry sense of humor; The Mamur Zapt and the Return of the Carpet is the first one. I liked this last series so well that I had to have them in hardback.
Date Posted: 3/15/2011 4:00 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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I second Pamela's recommendation of A Veiled Journery.  I just finished it a few days ago and had a hard time putting it down.

Date Posted: 3/28/2011 12:41 PM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2010
Posts: 6,337
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I saw this at the library and was reminded of this thread. I have not read it but thought I would post it.


Topkapi Secret by Terry Kelhawk

Date Posted: 3/31/2011 12:50 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2008
Posts: 120
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Can recommend any of the books written by Linda Holeman and Zoe Ferraris. All excellent reads.

Date Posted: 4/9/2011 11:41 PM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2010
Posts: 250
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The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Hamid

Last Edited on: 4/9/11 11:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 1