Arab Women Writers

Scope of this webpage

Women writers whose works have been translated into English are included in this bibliography. The writings span nationalism, resistance to misogyny, celebration of women’s achievements, religion, and affirmation of women’s empowerment in times of war and peace. The styles vary from the real to the surreal. Translations into English began mainly in the latter part of the twentieth century. Some writers mentioned here have stories and novels written in Arabic and/or French that may one day be translated into English. Some women writers from the Maghreb area of Africa are included. Many novelists have short stories that have not been included. Please email below if you feel that an author who has been omitted should be listed.

The videos that are included were taken in Jordan, on a Fulbright-sponsored trip to Mutah University, by Diane d’Almeida.

Middle East Map

Algeria

  • Assia Djebar – born 1936 in Cherchell. [Resides in Paris]. Works:The Mischief (trans. from French by Frances Frenaye, 1958); Nadia (trans. from French by Frances Frenaye, 1958); A Sister to Scheherazade (trans. from French by Dorothy S. Blair,1987); Fantasia: an Algerian Cavalcade (trans. from French by Dorothy S. Blair, 1985); So Vast the Prison: a Novel (trans. from French by Betsy Wing, 1999); Far From Medina (trans. from French, 1994); Children of the New World: a Novel of the Algerian War (trans. from French by Marjolijn De Jager, 2005).
  • Aicha Lemsine – born1942 in Nemencha. Works: Beneath a Sky of Porphyry (trans. from French by Dorothy S. Blair, 1990); The Chrysalis (trans. from French by Dorothy S. Blair, 1993).
  • Leila Marouane - born 1960. [Resides in France]. Works: The Abductor (trans. by Felicity McNab, 2000); In French: La fille de la casbah (1996); Le châtiment des hyprocrites (2001); La jeune fille et la mère (2004).
  • Malika Mokeddem – born 1949 in Kenadsa. [Resides in France]. Works: The Forbidden Woman (trans. from French by K. Melissa Marcus, 1998); Of Dreams and Assassins (trans. from French by K. Melissa Marcus, 2000); Century of Locusts (trans. from French by Laura Rice and Karim Hamdy, 2006).
  • Ahlam Mosteghanemi – born 1953. [Resides in Beirut]. Works: Memory in the Flesh (trans. from Arabic by Baria Ahmar Sreih, 2000); Chaos of the Senses (trans from Arabic by Baria Ahmar Sreih, 2004). Won Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, 1998.
  • Leila Sebbar – born 1941 in Aflou. [Resides in France]. Works: Sherazade (trans. from French by Dorothy S. Blair, 1999); An Algerian Childhood: a Collection of Autobiographical Narratives (trans. from French by Marjolijn de Jager 2001).

Egypt

  • Radwa Ashour- born 1946 in Cairo. Works: Granada, a Novel (trans. from Arabic by William Granara, 2003); Siraaj :an Arab tale (trans. from Arabic by Barbara Romaine, 2007).
  • Salwa Bakr – born 1949 in Cairo. Works: Such a Beautiful Voice (trans. from Arabic by Hoda el Sadda, 1992); The Wiles of Men and other Stories (trans. from Arabic by Denys Johnson-Davies, 1993); The Golden Chariot (trans. from Arabic by Dinah Manisty, 1995); The Man from Bashmour (trans. from Arabic by Nancy Roberts, 2007).
  • Nawal El Saadawi – born 1931 in Kafr Tahla. [Resides in Cairo]. Works: God Dies by the Nile (trans. from Arabic by Sherif Hetata, 1985); Memoirs of a Woman Docter (trans. from Arabic by Catherine Cobham, 1988); Two Women in One (trans. from Arabic by Osman Nusairi and Jana Gough, 1986); Death of an ex-Minister (trans. from Arabic by Shirley Eber, 1987); She has no Place in Paradise (trans. from Arabic by Shirley Eber, 1989); Searching (trans. from Arabic by Shirley Eber, 1991); The Innocence of the Devil (trans. from Arabic by Sherif Hetata, 1994); Love in the Kingdom of Oil (trans. from Arabic by Basil Hatim & Malcolm Williams, 2001); The Circling Song (trans. from Arabic by Marilyn Booth, 1989); The Novel (trans. from Arabic by Omnia Amin and Rick London, 2008). Has been awarded many honorary degrees.
  • Somaya Ramadan – born 1951 in Cairo. Works:Leaves of Narcissus (trans. from Arabic by Marilyn Booth, 2002). Won Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, 2001.
  • Alifa Rifaat – 1930 – 1996. Works: Distant View of a Minaret : and Other Stories (trans. from Arabic by Denis Johnson-Davies, 1987); and many more works.
  • Ibtihal Salem – born1949 in Cairo. Works: Children of the Waters (trans. from Arabic by Marilyn Booth, 2002).
  • Sahar Tawfiq – born 1951. Works: Points of the Compass: stories (trans. from Arabic by Marilyn Booth, 1995).
  • Ahdaf Soueif – born 1950 in Cairo. [Resides in England]. Works: Aisha (1983); In the Eye of the Sun (1992); Sandpiper(1996); The Map of Love (1999); Mezzaterra: Fragments from the Common Ground (2004).
  • Miral Tahawi – bornin Sharkeya. Works: The Tent (trans. from Arabic by Anthony Calderbank, 1998); Blue Aubergine (trans. from Arabic by Anthony Calderbank, 2002).
  • MayTalmissani – born1965 in Cairo. Works: Dunyazad (trans. from Arabic by Roger Allen, 2000).
  • Amina Zaydan – born in Suez. Works: Red Wine (trans. from Arabic.) Won Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, 2007.
  • Latifa al-Zayyat – born in Dumyat . 1923-1996. Works: The Owner of the House (trans. from Arabic by Sophie Bennett, 1997); The Open Door (trans. from Arabic by Marilyn Booth, 2000).

Iraq

  • Ibtisam Abdulla – born in Iraq.Stories included in Contemporary Iraqi fiction: an Anthology / edited and translated from the Arabic by Shakir Mustafa. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2008.
  • Daisy Al Amir – born 1935 in Basra. [Resides in Beirut]. Works: The Waiting List: an Iraqi Woman’s Tale of Alienation (trans. from Arabic by Barbara M. Parmenter, 1994).
  • Lutfiyya al-Dulaimi – born in Diyala. [Resides in Jordan]. Has published many works, including novels. Short stories translated into English by Shakir Mustafa. VIDEO
  • Maysalun Hadi – born 1954 in Baghdad. Short story writer and novelists. Stories included in Contemporary Iraqi fiction: an Anthology / edited and translated from the Arabic by Shakir Mustafa. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2008.
  • Haddiya Hussein – born in Baghdad. Short story writer, as well as a novel Beyond Love (orignally in Arabic). VIDEO
  • Inaam Kachachi - born 1951 in Baghdad.[Resides Paris]. Short stories translated by Denys Johnson-Davies. She has also written novels.
  • Betul Khudayri- born 1965 in Baghdad. [Resides Amman ]. Works: A Sky so Close (trans. from Arabic by Muhayman Jamil, 2001); Absent: a Novel (trans. from Arabic by Muhayman Jamil, 2001).
  • Alia Mamdouh – born 1944 in Iraq [Resides in Paris]. Works: Mothballs (trans. from Arabic by Peter Theroux, 1996); The Loved Ones (trans. from Arabic by Marilyn Booth, 2007). Won Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, 2004.
  • Samira Al-Mana – born in Basra. [Resides in London]. Works: The Umbilical Cord (trans. from Arabic by author and edited by Charles Lewis, 2005); stories included in Contemporary Iraqi fiction: an Anthology / edited and translated from the Arabic by Shakir Mustafa. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2008.
  • Buthaina Al Nasiri - born 1947. [Resides in Cairo]. Works: Final Night: short stories (trans. from Arabic by Denys ohnson-Davies, 2002).

Jordan

  • Rana Azzoubi – Born 1969 in Amman. Through a Mud Wall (2006); Million Star Hotel (2007). VIDEO
  • Jameelh Amirah – Born Amman. Things Chaotic, in Banipal, Magazine of Modern Arab Literature, No. 13, Spring 2002. Trans. by Lily Al-Tai. VIDEO
  • Basma El-Nsour – Born Amman. The Man who Crossed the Street, in Banipal, Magazine of Modern Arab Literature, No. 13, Spring 2002. Trans. by Aida A. Bamia. VIDEO
  • Fadia Faqir - born 1956 in Amman. [Resides in England. Writes in English]. Works: Pillars of Salt (1996); Nisanit (1987); In the House of Silence: Autobiographical Essays by Arab Women Writers (1998); The Cry of the Dove (2007); My name is Salma (2007).
  • Samiha Khreis – Born Amman. The Poppy, in Banipal, Magazine of Modern Arab Literature, No. 13, Spring 2002. Trans. by Yasir Suleiman. VIDEO

Kuwait

  • Layla al-Uthman - born 1945 in Kuwait City. Another Role for the Abaya, trans. from Arabic by miriam cooke from Opening the Gates: an Anthology of Arab Feminist Writing / edited by Margot Badran and miriam cooke. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2004.

Lebanon

  • Evelyne Accad – born 1943 in Beirut.[Resides Lebanon and France]. Works: The Excised (trans. from French by David K. Bruner, 1994 ); Wounding Words: a Woman’s Journal in Tunisia (trans. from French by Dr. Cynthia T. Hahn, 1996); Coquelicot du massacre = Poppy from the Massacre – Bilingual Edition (trans. from French by Cynthia Hahn, 2006).
  • Huda Barakat - born 1952 in Bsharré. Works: The Stone of Laughter (trans. from Arabic by Sophie Bennett, 1995); The Tiller of Waters (trans. from Arabic by Marilyn Booth, 2001); Disciples of Passion (trans. from Arabic by Marilyn Booth, 2005). Won Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, 2000.
  • Andree Chedid - born 1920 in Cairo. Works:The Sixth Day (trans. from French by Isobel Strachey, 1987); From Sleep Unbound (trans. from French by Sharon Spencer, 1983); The Return to Beirut (trans. from French by Ros Schwartz, 1989); The Multiple Child (trans. from Arabic by Judith Radke, 1995); Narcissus (trans. from Arabic by Marilyn Booth, 2002).
  • Etel Adnan – born 1925 in Beirut. [Resides USA, Paris, Lebanon. Writes in English and French.] Works: Sitt Marie Rose : a Novel / (trans. from French bu Georgina Kleege, 1982).
  • Emily Nasrallah – born 1931 in Kfeir, South Lebanon. [Resides Beifut]. Works: A House not her Own (trans. from Arabic by Thuraya Khalil-Khouri, 1992); Flight Against Time (trans. from Arabic by Issa J. Boullata, 1997).
  • Hanan al Shaykh - born 1945 in Beirut. [Resides London]. Works: The Story of Zahra (trans. from Arabic by Peter Ford, 1986); Beirut Blues(trans. from Arabic by Catherine Cobham, 1995); I Sweep the Sun off Rooftops (trans. from Arabic by Catherine Cobham, 1998); Women of Sand and Myrrh (trans. from Arabic by Catherine Cobham, 1989); Only in London (trans. from Arabic by Catherine Cobham, 2001); The Locust and the Bird ( from Arabic by Roger Allen 2009).

Morocco

  • Leila Abouzeid – born 1950 in El-Ksiba. Works: The Year of the Elephant (trans. from Arabic by Barbara Parmenter, 1989); The Last Chapter (trans. from Arabic by Leila Abouzeid and John Liechety, 2003); The Director and Other Stories from Morocco (trans. from Arabic by the author, 2005).
  • Laila Lalami – born 1968 in Rabat. [Resides in USA. Writes in English.] Works: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (2005); Secret Son, a novel/ (2009).
  • Fatema Mernissi – born 1940 in Fez. Works: Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood (1994).

Palestine

  • Leila Atrash – Born in Palestine. [Resides in Jordan]. Works: A Woman of Five Seasons (trans. from Arabic by Nora Nweihid Halwani and Christopher Tingley, 2002). VIDEO
  • Liana Badr – born 1950 in Jerusalem. Works: A Compass for the Sunflower (trans. from Arabic by Catherine Cobham, 1989); A Balcony over the Fakihani (trans. from Arabic by Peter Clark with Christopher Tingley, 1993); The Eye of the Mirror (trans. from Arabic by Samira Kawar, 1994).
  • Sahar Khalifeh – born 1942 in Nablus. Works:Wild Thorns (trans. from Arabic by Trevor LeGassick and Elizabeth Fernea, 1985); The Inheritance (trans. from Arabic by Aida Bamia, 2005); The End of Spring (trans. from Arabic by Paula Haydar, 2007); The Image, the Icon, and the Convenant (trans. from Arabic by Aida A Bamia, 2007). Won Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature, 2006.
  • Fadwa Tuqan – 1917-2003 born in Nablus. Works: A Mountainous Journey: an Autobiography (trans. from Arabic by Olive Kenny, 1990). Poet.

Saudi Arabia

  • Raja Alem – Bornin Mecca. Works:Fatma : a Novel of Arabia (written with Tom McDonough, 2002); My Thousand & One Nights: a Novel of Mecca (trans. with Tom McDonough, 2007).
  • Raja Sanea – Born1981. Works:The Girls of Riyad (trans. from Arabic by Marilyn Booth, 2007).

Sudan

  • Leila Aboulela – born 1964, in Cairo. [Resides in Abu Dhabi. Writes in English]. Works: The Translator (1999); Coloured Lights (2001); Minaret (2004); Leila (2007).

Syria

  • Myriam Antaki – Born in Damascus. Works: Verses of Forgiveness (trans. from French by Marjolijn de Jager, 2002).
  • Ulfat Idilbi – 1912-2007 in Damascus. Works: Sabriya: Damuscus Bitter Sweet (trans. from Arabic by Peter Clark, 1997); Grandfather’s Tale (trans. from Arabic by Peter Clark, 1998).
  • Ghadah al Samman - born 1941 in Damascus. [Resides Beirut]. Works: The Square Moon: Supernatural Tale (trans. from Arabic by Iss J. Boullata, 1998).; Beirut 75 (trans. from Arabic by Nancy N. Roberts, 1995); Beirut Nightmares (trans. from Arabic by Nancy N. Roberts, 1997); The Night of the First Billion (trans. from Arabic by Nancy N. Roberts, 2005).
  • Samar Attar – born1940 in Damascus. [ResidesAustralia]. Works: The House on Arnus Square (1998); Lina, a Portrait of a Damascene Girl (1994).
  • Samar Yazbek – born in Jableh 1970.  Short stories and a book  A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution , 2012 in English.

United Arab Emirates

  • Ayesha Sharafi – recent graduate of the American University of Sharjah, and the 2013 winner of the Oxford University Press Short Story Competition (for her story Seeking the Truth), Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.  Another short story:  August 2nd .

Translators

  • Roger Allen
  • Sophie Bennett
  • Dorothy S. Blair
  • Issa J. Boullata
  • Marilyn Booth
  • David K. Bruner
  • Peter Clark
  • Catherine Cobham
  • miriam cooke
  • Peter Ford
  • Cynthia T. Hahn
  • Nora Nweihid Halwani
  • William Hutchins
  • Marjolijn De Jager
  • Denys Johnson-Davies
  • Salma Khadra Jayyusi VIDEO
  • Thuraya Khalil-Khouri
  • Shakir Mustafa
  • Christopher Tingley

Anthologies of fiction

    The author of the website owes a debt of gratitude to the following works:

  • Arab Women Writers: an Anthology of Short Stories / edited, translated, and with an introduction by Dalya Cohen-Mor. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005. Mugar:
  • Oranges in the Sun: Short Stories from the Arabian Gulf/ Deborah S. Akers, Abu Bakr Ahmad Baqadir. Boulder, Colo: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2008. Mugar: PJ8000.82.E5 O73 2008
  • Global Voices: Contemporary Literature from the non-WesternWorld / Arthur W. Biddle, Gloria Bien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995.
  • Opening the Gates: an Anthology of Arab Feminist Writing / edited by Margot Badran and miriam cooke. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2004. Mugar: HQ1784 .O64 2004
  • Contemporary Iraqi fiction: an Anthology / edited and translated from the Arabic by Shakir Mustafa. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2008. Mugar: PJ8046.5.E5 C66 2008
  • In the House of Silence: Arab Women Writers / edited by Fadia Faqir, translated by Shirley Eber and F. Faqir. Reading: Garnet Pub., 1998. Mugar: PJ7525.2 .I5 1998
  • Arab Women Novelists: the Formative Years / Joseph T. Zeidan. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995. Mugar: PJ7525.2 .Z45 1995
  • Modern Arabic fiction : an anthology / edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi. New York : Columbia University Press, c2005.Mugar: PJ7694.E8 M59 2005
  • Middle Eastern Muslim Women Speak / edited by Elizabeth Warnock Fernea and Basima Qattan Bezirgan. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1976. Mugar: HQ1170 .M53
  • Under the Naked Sky: Short Stories from the Arab World / selected and translated by Denys Johnson-Davies. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2000. Mugar: PJ7694.E8 U534 2000
  • The Anchor Book of Modern Arabic Fiction / edited by Denys Johnson-Davies. New York: Anchor Books, 2006. Mugar:PJ7694.E8 A53 2006
  • Arabic Short Stories / translated by Denys Johnson-Davies, with an introduction by Roger Allen. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. Mugar: PJ7694.E8 A73 1994Arab Womwn Writers: A Critical Reference Guide 1873-1999 – edited by Radwa Ashour, Ferial J. Ghazoul, Hasna Reda-Mekdashi ; AUC Press, 2008. Mugar:

Websites for further reading

    • Banipal - an independent literary magazine publishing contemporary authors and poets from all over the Arab world in English translation.

Note: The author would like to acknowledge the good counsel and encouragement of miriam cooke and Shakir Mustafa.

Diane d’Almeida (dalmeida@bu.edu)