Palestine: A Reading List
By Leanne Francis, Michelle Ye, Yumna Iqbal and Ho Jia Wen
In light of the ongoing crisis in Palestine, we have compiled a list of books about Palestine’s long and misunderstood history. The books listed here – both non-fiction and fiction – weave together stories of survival, love, loss and devastation, providing deeper insight into the complex Palestinian struggle.
The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story by Ramzy Baroud
Spanning decades and encompassing war, mass exodus and the search for identity, Ramzy Baroud captures the collective voice of modern Palestine in The Last Earth. In this powerful retelling of Palestinian history, Ramzy Baroud draws on dozens of interviews to produce vivid, intimate and beautifully written accounts of Palestinian lives in villages, refugee camps, prisons and cities. The Last Earth is a ground-breaking book that challenges the narrative that has been created about Palestine.
My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story by Ramzy Baroud
Also by Ramzy Baroud, this book offers a first-hand account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A journalist himself, Baroud gives readers an insight into the violence that is often missed in mainstream news, supported by meticulous research and personal interviews. Baroud focuses on his father, narrating how he was forced from his village and into refugee camps, and his struggle to fight for freedom. However, the story shows a bigger picture of the suffering of over 700,000 Palestinians who were made refugees after the Israeli occupation.
Voices of the Nakba, translated by Hoda Adra & Rayya Badran; edited by Diana Allan
Winner of an English PEN Award in 2021, Voices of the Nakba gathers the stories of first-generation Palestinian refugees in Lebanon as they remember life before and after the 1948 Nakba, during which more than 750,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were violently expelled from their homes by Zionist militias. Voices of the Nakba vitally centres and preserves these marginalised voices.
The Question of Palestine by Edward Said
Written by the infamous Palestinian writer Edward Said, who is credited with being the first to coin the term Orientalism, this novel explores the debate regarding Palestine’s occupation, more so looking through the lens of orientalism and postcolonialism. He maps out the relationship between Israel and Palestine, and the repercussions on both the side of the occupier and those being occupied, as well as in the Middle East as a whole.
Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine by Noura Erekat
Described as “A brilliant and bracing analysis of the Palestine question and settler colonialism,” Erekat reviews a new perspective on acknowledging the Palestinian struggle through international law and the effect it has. By focusing on key events in Palestinian history, such as the Balfour Declaration (1917), she examines how the international justice system has helped create the conditions in Palestine today.
Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa
Written by Susan Abulhawa, Against the Loveless World is an award-winning tapestry of perseverance and hope. The novel is told from the perspective of Nahr, a political prisoner reflecting on her life while in solitary confinement. A daughter of Palestinian refugees, she recounts her birth and life in Kuwait. Although Nahr dreamed of domestic happiness and even starting her own business, she finds herself alone after her husband leaves her and she struggles to support her family. New conflicts in the Middle East make Nahr a refugee and place her on a path back to Palestine where she must find a way to rebuild despite the many forces bearing down on her.
Passage to the Plaza by Sahar Khalifeh, translated by Sawad Hussain
Sahar Khalifeh’s novel Passage to the Plaza is set in the Palestinian city of Nablus and explores the intertwining of freedom, national identity and gender. Nuzha is shunned by her community but when the Intifada begins, Nuzha’s home becomes a place of refuge not just for herself but also for an injured resistance fighter, a researcher studying the impacts of the Intifada and a midwife. Their stories highlight the experiences of women trying to reassemble themselves as their communities fracture around them.
My First and Only Love: A Novel by Sahar Khalifeh, translated by Aida Bamia
Written by renowned Palestinian author Sahar Khalifeh, this novel is about love, both Nidal’s love for Rabie and her country. Nidal returns to her home in Nablus after decades of exile, after the 1948 Nakba that broke her family apart. She meets Rabie again, her first and only love – they had separated in their youth when Rabie chose to join efforts for liberation. Their rekindling led Nidal to discover more about her family’s history in the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle. As truths reveal, Nidal finds that revolution is inevitable and she must play a part.
"Mural" by Mahmoud Darwish, translated by John Berger and Rema Hammami
A compilation of two works by notable Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, this text includes both "Mural" and his final poem, "The Dice Player," which he read a month prior to his death. Darwish is widely known for intertwining the struggles he as well as the wider population of Palestine have faced into his poems, portraying stories of suffering and loss, and evoking raw emotion as he describes losing his home and people.