I love lists. So many books, so many thoughts and ideas condensed into a single, well-ordered list. I came across a good one over the summer, listing the top 105 works of 20th century Arabic literature. Wanted to link to it to remind myself where it is, and also because I thought it might be interesting for some of you as well. I bookmarked it as well, but am I the only person who obsessively bookmarks half the sites on the web and then never ever goes back to visit any of them, and in any case can’t find the right bookmark even if I want to?

Click hereΒ for a list of all the books I’ve reviewed on this site.


  1. Caroline 12 September 2011 at 7:02 pm

    This is great, thank you so much.
    I’m planning on reading more books from Arabic authors.
    I got a few interesting ones by women mostly.

  2. Vishy 12 September 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Wonderful list, Andrew! Egyptian books seem to dominate the list – I counted nearly thirty of them! I was surprised that Naguib Mahfouz’ ‘The Harafish’ was not there on the list, because some people say that it is better than the Cairo trilogy. But it also looks like one author has only one entry in the list and so the compilers could include only one for Mahfouz. It was also interesting that Palestinian writer Emile Habibi was featured on the list. He was an Israeli citizen and was also voted as one of the 200 greatest Israelis of alltime. I was surprised (and disappointed and sad) that Egyptian writer Nawal El Saadawi was not featured in the list, because she was one of the first Egyptian feminist writers and she continues to fight for the rights of women in her country.

  3. M. Lynx Qualey 13 September 2011 at 4:52 am


    Citizenship didn’t matter on the list—only that the author writes in Arabic. (So you won’t find one of my all-time-favorite authors, who happens to be Egyptian, Waguih Ghali. He wrote his single, gorgeous novel in English.) As for Nawal al-Saadawi, she’s generally regarded in critical circles as more successful as an activist than as a significant novelist. But I find some of her nonfiction quite wonderful.

    Hope you poke around and read a few titles on the list!

  4. litlove 13 September 2011 at 8:34 am

    You are so not alone when it comes to those missing or forgotten bookmarks….

  5. Vishy 13 September 2011 at 5:42 pm

    @M. Lynx Qualey – Thanks for the reply. Thanks also for mentioning Waguih Ghali. I will look for his English novel. What is it called? Sorry to know that Nawal El Saadawi is not regarded as a novelist in Arabic literary circles. Hope that estimate of her works changes in the future. I browsed through your blog and it is awesome!

  6. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 13 September 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Glad it was interesting to more people than just me (and also, litlove, that I am not alone with the bookmarking issues!).
    Caroline, care to share those books you’ve got lined up? I may have just linked to 105 new books, but I’m always looking to add more to my pile of books to be read.
    Vishy, sounds as if you looked through that list in detail! Thanks for recommending some other books as well. The Harafish sounds excellent. I have not read anything by Nawal El Saadawi – which book would you recommend the most?
    M. Lynx Qualey, thanks for putting in an appearance and clarifying a few things about the compilation of the list (and also for recommending another book, which sounds excellent!). So now I have 107 to read, thanks to you and Vishy πŸ˜‰

  7. Caroline 14 September 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I got two books by Algerian writer Assia Djebar, one is called Children of the New World. Then Yasmina Khadra’s (it’s actually a man’s penname) Swallow’s of Kabul. Not sure if they count as they both write in French.
    And then I got books by Shahrnush Parsipur but – I feel a bit dorky now – I just saw that she is Iranian.
    I also got a book by Nawal El Saadawi but in a German translation.

  8. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 14 September 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Hi Caroline,
    Many thanks – they look interesting! Don’t feel dorky about Shahrnush Parsipur πŸ™‚ Somebody once recommended the poetry of Forough Farrokhzad to me and I said something about not knowing any Arabic before I realised “oops, she’s Iranian. I knew that, really I did!” Thanks for giving me some good new writers to learn about! Publishing a novel called “Women Without Men” in Iran in 1989 was certainly a brave thing to do, and I think I should read it on that basis, as well as the fact that it looks fascinating.

  9. Caroline 14 September 2011 at 6:33 pm

    That’s the one I have. It has a very long afterword that looked interesting as well.

  10. Emma 14 September 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks for this, I’m a list-maniac too (After all, don’t I have a Reading Lists page?)
    It’s great, there are even special hints for French readers.
    I see I have only read The Cairo Trilogy.

    Caroline, Yasmina Khadra has a new book. He was on France Inter this week-end but I wasn’t tempted. The show must be available to podcast if you’re interested.I think it was La librairie francophone, with journalists from France, Belgium, Canada and Switzerland.

  11. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 15 September 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Hi Emma, glad you liked it. Yes, I just saw your reading lists page! That’s a good idea. Also just noticed that we use the same blog theme. Maybe that’s always been the case, but I am very unobservant!

  12. Emma 16 September 2011 at 6:21 pm

    @Andrew Blackman
    Yes we have the same blog theme. How did you add a picture in the header? This theme allows individual answers to comments and bears well the bilingual quotes I use when I read a French book.

  13. Andrew Blackman 16 September 2011 at 11:14 pm

    @Emma Hmm, not sure – I did it a couple of years ago now and can’t remember! I’ll have a poke around in my blog files when I get a chance and let you know if I can piece it together…

  14. Kinna 20 September 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I also bookmark a lot and I love lists. This particular list is quite comprehensive. The Arab Lit blog is one of my favs.

  15. Andrew Blackman - Site Author 21 September 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Hi Kinna, hmm, we love books, lists and organising/bookmarking – maybe we are both frustrated librarians πŸ™‚


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