Craving rich characters and authentic voices? Look no further! Here are five books by Arab authors that are must-haves for your reading list.

1. Behind Picket Fences

Behind Picket Fences is the story of how four families deal with their trials and triumphs. It is an honest portrayal of love and family, Behind Picket Fences opens our eyes to the difficult truths hidden behind smiling faces.

Set in Smalltown, USA with a cast of diverse characters, Picket Fences captures your heart from the very beginning. I was so invested in the characters I finished it in two days!


2. Wolves of a Crescent Moon

In a Riyadh bus station, a man comes across a file containing official reports about an abandoned baby. As he pieces together the shattered life documented within, a larger picture emerges of three outsiders—a Bedouin, an orphan, and a eunuch-linked by fate and trying to make lives for themselves in a predatory city.

I shed more tears than I would like to admit while reading this. Wolves probes at the inner workings of morality in Saudi society with lyrical prose. Two intertwined storylines offer a glimpse into a carefully hidden part of the Kingdom.

3. Baraweez

Baraweez, the Egyptian colloquial word for frames tells the dramatic stories of three Egyptian women portrayed in frames on Nanna’s side table which she reveals to her granddaughter. These three stories are set within the story of Nanna, Salma and their family going about their daily lives in Alexandria in the midst of fast-paced political upheaval, unrest and uncertainty during the January 25th 2011 revolution.

Baraweez provides three different entertaining narratives and weaves it into a powerful social commentary. The women in this book are their own heroes, despite heartache, trials, and tribulations. Love it!


4. Fabulous Veils

Fabulous Veils is a masterfully woven plot following the lives of three Egyptian women against the backdrop of a changing society. Their stories provoke the new generation to put an end to four decades of oppression, inequality and discrimination, writing history on their own terms for the first time in Egypt. Bringing up social issues whilst remaining a human story it is thoroughly readable and both strokes and punches the emotions.

Another masterful story teller provides insight into the issues plaguing women around the globe. Refaat delves into taboo topics such as mental illness, abuse, and social class structure. Once you enter the world of Fabulous Veils, you won’t be able to forget it.

5. Utopia

A dystopian Egypt in the year 2023. The decadent rich live in secured compounds while the poor are trapped outside in a dog-eat-dog world.

A jaw-dropping masterpiece. Utterly stunning. I consumed it in one sitting.


Of course, there are thousands of books by Arab authors that you should read — but these are too good to languish on a lonely bookshelf. Happy reading!

*For the purposes of this post, I’m considering an “Arab author” to be an “Arabic speaker who writes kick-ass novels.” That is all.