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Fiction

Brick Lane
by Monica Ali
    Monica Ali's debut novel chronicles the life of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi girl so sickly at birth that the midwife at first declares her stillborn. At 18 her parents arrange a marriage to Chanu, a Bengali immigrant living in England. Although Chanu--who's twice Nazneen's age--turns out to be a foolish blowhard who "had a face like a frog," Nazneen accepts her fate, which seems to be the main life lesson taught by the women in her family. "If God wanted us to ask questions," her mother tells her, "he would have made us men."

Conference of the Birds
by Farid al-Din Attar
conference of the birds     A prose translation of a greatly renowned Sufi poem is a fable composed of many delightful and amusing tales-within-a-tale that serves as an allegory of the soul's journey to union with God. Its author, the 12th-century Persian poet and spiritual master Attar, is one of the most influential figures in Sufism, the mystical movement that arose from Islam.

Just Like a River
by Muhammad Kamil al-Khatib
    Thought by many Syrians to be the most influential novel of its time, this first novel of Muhammad Kamil al-Khatib is a riveting examination of Syrian political and social life during the 1980s. With a multi-voiced narration carried, like a river, from one voice to another, al-Khatib paints concise, vivid portraits of a disparate group of people in Damascus.

Women of Sand and Myrrh
by Hanna al-Shaykh
warlords son     Four intertwined first-person narratives use poetic language to paint a hard-edged picture of an unnamed wealthy Arab desert country full of luxurious houses hidden behind high walls and women hidden behind veils.

The Warlord's Son
by Dan Fesperman
    Newspaper reporter Stan Kelly is a former hotshot war correspondent, now a burned-out hack covering town meetings for a Midwestern daily. Five weeks after 9/11 he is given a chance—his last chance to get back in the game, he believes—to cover the war on terror, the Taliban and Afghanistan.

In the Walled Gardens: A Novel
by Anahita Firouz
in the walled gardens     Firouz's debut novel is set in Iran in 1977, just a couple of years prior to the revolution in 1979. Told from two points of view--that of Mahastee, a wealthy young woman, and Reza, the son of an overseer--the story revolves around the world of privilege and the revolutionary underground.

The Mulberry Empire
by Philip Hensher
    In the spring of 1839, some fifty thousand British forces entered Afghanistan with “the full pomp of Empire,” possessed of the certainty that they would replace the Amir with someone less hostile toward their ally, the Punjabi king. Three years later, a single British horseman rode out of the Afghan mountains into India—the sole survivor of the original vast contingent.

Kabul
by M. E. Hirsh
mulberry empire     When the last Afghan king is deposed in the summer of 1973, the family of Omar Anwari, his loyal cabinet minister, is torn apart along with their country.

A Sky So Close : A Novel
by Betool Khedairi
    A young woman comes of age in modern Iraq in this lyrical debut. She recalls her early childhood on a farm in the small village of Zafraniya, outside of Baghdad. It is a mostly peaceful time in the country; her afternoons are spent playing among apricot trees. From the age of six, however, the conflicting values of East and West begin to disrupt her idyllic life.

The Swallows of Kabul : A Novel
by Yasmina Khadra
foreigner     Moshen, the scion of a family of successful businessmen, and his wife, Zunaira, the daughter of a prominent man, met at the university and once looked forward to a happy and prosperous life together. But Moshen’s dream of becoming a diplomat, halted by the war with Russia, dies with the ascendancy of the Taliban.

Anthology of Islamic Literature
compiled by James Kritzeck
    From the rise of Islam to modern times with an introduction and commentaries by James Kritzeck.

Samarkand
by Amin Maalouf
winter in kandahar     Edward Fitzgerald's Victorian-era translation of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyaat profoundly influenced the West's perception (or misperception) of Persia. Lebanese author Maalouf tries to set the record straight in this fictional history of Omar's personal manuscript copy of the famous quatrains.

Foreigner
by Nahid Rachlin
    Feri, an Iranian woman in her thirties, left Iran to study and work in the United States, where she married an American and settled down. Now, after fourteen years, she has returned to Iran to visit her family. Unexpectedly, she finds herself strangely pulled by the old culture, where she will confront as never before the question of where she belongs and how she wants to live.

Winter in Kandahar
by Steven E. Wilson
    Young Tajik Ahmed Jan’s heroic journey begins in the Northern Alliance stronghold near Taloqan just a month prior to 9/11. He is swept away by the chaos that soon engulfs the country before a chance discovery propels him to the forefront of the clash between civilizations. Pursued by both the CIA and al-Qaeda, he struggles to save his people from obliteration and find the true meaning of life in a land where all seems lost.