100 books like Exile's Return

By Fawaz Turki,

Here are 100 books that Exile's Return fans have personally recommended if you like Exile's Return. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Gate of the Sun

Anne Irfan Author Of Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the International Refugee System

From my list on Palestinian refugees.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian at University College London, where I examine Palestinian refugee history in both my writing and my teaching. I first visited a Palestinian refugee camp 15 years ago, and I’ve spent much of my life since then researching the subject’s history and politics. As I see it, this topic is really the key to understanding the political dynamics of Israel-Palestine today. While a huge amount has been written on Israel-Palestine, I have always found that the most striking and informative works focus on refugees’ own experiences – and that’s the common thread running through the books I’ve chosen here.

Anne's book list on Palestinian refugees

Anne Irfan Why did Anne love this book?

Gate of the Sun is one of the most acclaimed novels about the so-called “question of Palestine.”

Although fictional, it hews closely to real life; the author Elias Khoury, a Lebanese writer, was informed by the extensive time he spent talking to Palestinian refugees in various camps. The book is set in Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon and has an epic scope, weaving together different characters’ experiences of displacement and exile and spanning six decades from the 1930s to the 1990s.

Along the way, we engage with some of the most pivotal moments in recent Palestinian history: the original displacement of 1948 (known as the Nakba); the Arab defeat of 1967; the 1982 massacre in Sabra and Shatila camps. Epic in every sense.

By Elias Khoury, Humphrey Davies (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gate of the Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Notable Book of the Year

“An imposingly rich and realistic novel, a genuine masterwork” that vividly captures the Palestinian experience following the creation of the Israeli state (New York Times Book Review)
 
After Palestine is torn apart in 1948, two men remain alone in a deserted makeshift hospital in the Shatila camp on the outskirts of Beirut—entering a vast world of displacement, fear, and tenuous hope.
 
Khalil holds vigil at the bedside of his patient and spiritual father, a storied leader of the Palestinian resistance who has slipped into a coma. As Khalil attempts to revive Yunes,…


Book cover of The Palestinians: From Peasants to Revolutionaries

Anne Irfan Author Of Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the International Refugee System

From my list on Palestinian refugees.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian at University College London, where I examine Palestinian refugee history in both my writing and my teaching. I first visited a Palestinian refugee camp 15 years ago, and I’ve spent much of my life since then researching the subject’s history and politics. As I see it, this topic is really the key to understanding the political dynamics of Israel-Palestine today. While a huge amount has been written on Israel-Palestine, I have always found that the most striking and informative works focus on refugees’ own experiences – and that’s the common thread running through the books I’ve chosen here.

Anne's book list on Palestinian refugees

Anne Irfan Why did Anne love this book?

This is the book that made me want to learn more and more about Palestinian refugee experiences.

On first publication it was groundbreaking in various ways. Way before it was commonplace for researchers and activists, the author Rosemary Sayigh spent time living in a Palestinian refugee camp and learning directly from her interactions with people there.

She also took an unconventional approach to understanding Palestinian history; instead of engaging with formal historical narratives, she was interested in how people experienced history. To do this she focused primarily on listening to the experiences of refugee women.

As a result, her work became significant in the field of oral history as well as Palestinian studies. The Palestinians presents the refugees’ history on this basis, and is all the more memorable for it. 

By Rosemary Sayigh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Palestinians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the Israel-Palestine conflict rages on, it is more important now than ever to understand the history of the Palestinian people. Rosemary Sayigh's The Palestinians is a classic of radical history.

Through extensive interviews with Palestinians in refugee camps, she provides a deeply-moving, grassroots story of how the Palestinians came to be who they are today. In their own voices, Palestinians tell stories of the Nabka and their flight from their homeland. Sayigh's powerful account of Palestinians' economic marginalisation the social and psychological effects of being uprooted and the political oppression which they have faced continues to resonate today.

Reissued…


Book cover of Being Palestinian: Personal Reflections on Palestinian Identity in the Diaspora

Anne Irfan Author Of Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the International Refugee System

From my list on Palestinian refugees.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian at University College London, where I examine Palestinian refugee history in both my writing and my teaching. I first visited a Palestinian refugee camp 15 years ago, and I’ve spent much of my life since then researching the subject’s history and politics. As I see it, this topic is really the key to understanding the political dynamics of Israel-Palestine today. While a huge amount has been written on Israel-Palestine, I have always found that the most striking and informative works focus on refugees’ own experiences – and that’s the common thread running through the books I’ve chosen here.

Anne's book list on Palestinian refugees

Anne Irfan Why did Anne love this book?

Being Palestinian is a collection of essays by Palestinians reflecting on their identity and experiences living outside of their homeland.

I’ve chosen it here because few works are so effective in conveying both the commonalities and the diversity of the Palestinian refugee experience. The contributors range from Ivy League professors to activists campaigning for justice in the Middle East today; they include figures who grew up in refugee camps and those raised in some of the wealthiest cities in the world.

In many ways Being Palestinian is the perfect introduction to learning more about the subject, because it is accessible and highly personal without being simplistic. 

By Yasir Suleiman (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Being Palestinian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What does it means to be Palestinian in the diaspora? This collection of 100 personal reflections on being Palestinian is the first book of its kind. Reflecting on Palestinian identity as it is experienced at the individual level, issues of identity, exile, refugee status, nostalgia, belonging and alienation are at the heart of the book. The contributors speak in many voices, exploring the richness and diversity of identity construction among Palestinians in the diaspora. Included are contributions from Palestinians living in the Anglo-Saxon diaspora, mainly the UK and North America. They come from a variety of professional backgrounds: business people,…


Book cover of Refugees of the Revolution: Experiences of Palestinian Exile

Anne Irfan Author Of Refuge and Resistance: Palestinians and the International Refugee System

From my list on Palestinian refugees.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian at University College London, where I examine Palestinian refugee history in both my writing and my teaching. I first visited a Palestinian refugee camp 15 years ago, and I’ve spent much of my life since then researching the subject’s history and politics. As I see it, this topic is really the key to understanding the political dynamics of Israel-Palestine today. While a huge amount has been written on Israel-Palestine, I have always found that the most striking and informative works focus on refugees’ own experiences – and that’s the common thread running through the books I’ve chosen here.

Anne's book list on Palestinian refugees

Anne Irfan Why did Anne love this book?

Refugees of the Revolution is an ethnographic study of Shatila refugee camp, which is notorious as the site of a 1982 massacre and has become central to Palestinian nationalist narratives.

In the early 21st century, Allan spent time living in Shatila, originally wanting to research the nationalist discourse there. Instead, she came away with a much more complex study of the refugees’ complex struggles, in both the political and the quotidian sense. In taking an unconventional approach, Allan has something in common with Sayigh, even though they were writing 40 years apart.

For these reasons Refugees of the Revolution is particularly interested to read as a follow-up to Sayigh’s The Palestinians, which is my first pick above. 

By Diana Allan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Refugees of the Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Some sixty-five years after 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homeland, the popular conception of Palestinian refugees still emphasizes their fierce commitment to exercising their "right of return." Exile has come to seem a kind of historical amber, preserving refugees in a way of life that ended abruptly with "the catastrophe" of 1948 and their camps-inhabited now for four generations-as mere zones of waiting. While reducing refugees to symbols of steadfast single-mindedness has been politically expedient to both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict it comes at a tremendous cost for refugees themselves, overlooking their individual memories and aspirations…


Book cover of What It Means to be Palestinian: Stories of Palestinian Peoplehood

Zahera Harb Author Of Reporting the Middle East: The Practice of News in the Twenty-First Century

From my list on the Middle East from a Lebanese journalist.

Why am I passionate about this?

Arriving in the UK to pursue my PhD after a career in Journalism in my native country Lebanon, a few days before September 11, 2001, set me on a journey to put right the way my region and its people are represented in British and international media. The Middle East, the Arab region, Islam, and Muslims became the focal point of coverage for many years that followed. Most of that coverage had been tainted with negative stereotypes that do not speak true to who we are and what we stand for. Achieving fair representation and portrayal of ethnic and religious minorities have become one of my life passions.  

Zahera's book list on the Middle East from a Lebanese journalist

Zahera Harb Why did Zahera love this book?

As a journalist I have often reported on the Palestinian refugees in my home country Lebanon. I visited the refugee camps and spoke to its residents, and every time I leave the place with stories of what they have behind when they had to flee the historic land of Palestine in 1948 and later in 1967. The old keys and deeds to their homes that had been passed on from one generation to another, stay witness to their conviction of their right to return. This book is about those people and their narratives. It is about Palestinians’ collective memory of loss, that has been kept alive mostly through the spoken word. This book is a narrative documenting those narratives. It captures the essence of what it means to be Palestinian. 

By Dina Matar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What It Means to be Palestinian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"What It Means to be Palestinian" is a narrative of narratives, a collection of personal stories, remembered feelings and reconstructed experiences by different Palestinians whose lives were changed and shaped by history. Their stories are told chronologically through particular phases of the Palestinian national struggle, providing a composite autobiography of Palestine as a landscape and as a people. The book begins with the 1936 revolt against British rule in Palestine and ends in 1993, with the Oslo peace agreement that changed the nature and form of the national struggle. It is based on in-depth interviews and conversations with Palestinians, male…


Book cover of The Words of My Father: Love and Pain in Palestine

Yossi Klein Halevi Author Of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

From my list on passionate reads on the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Why am I passionate about this?

In books, essays and reportage, I've been writing about Israel and the conflict since moving from the U.S. to Israel in 1982. Even as I write from within my Israeli consciousness, I have tried to understand and convey other perspectives. For Israelis and Palestinians, there is nothing abstract about this conflict; it is, instead, a matter of life and death. My writing is an attempt to simultaneously convey the passions of this conflict and offer an empathic voice for all those caught in this seemingly hopeless situation.

Yossi's book list on passionate reads on the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Yossi Klein Halevi Why did Yossi love this book?

In this extraordinary memoir, Yousef Bashir describes growing up in Gaza during the Second Intifada of the early 2000s. At age 15, an Israeli soldier shot him in the back. Paralyzed, Yousef was sent to an Israeli hospital, where he gradually recovered, making Israeli friends in the process. That experience of “love and pain” helped transform him into a peace activist. Yousef is one of the Palestinians who wrote a response to my book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. (His letter appears in the epilogue.) I know of no better window into the Palestinian experience than this beautiful, wrenching book.

By Yousef Bashir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Words of My Father as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Palestinian-American activist recalls his adolescence in Gaza during the Second Intifada, and how he made a strong commitment to peace in the face of devastating brutality in this moving, candid, and transformative memoir that reminds us of the importance of looking beyond prejudice, anger, and fear.


Book cover of Mornings in Jenin

Helen Benedict Author Of The Good Deed

From my list on honest novels about being a refugee.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a novelist and journalist who has been writing about war and refugees for nearly two decades. In 2018, I went to the Greek island of Samos, which held one of the most inhumane refugee camps in Europe, to talk to people there about their lives and hopes. Out of this, I wrote several articles and later two books, including The Good Deed. My hope is to counteract the demonization of refugees, so rife in the world today, by bringing out all that we humans have in common, such as our need for shelter, food, family, safety, and love. 

Helen's book list on honest novels about being a refugee

Helen Benedict Why did Helen love this book?

I listened to this book because I wanted to understand more about the history and people of Palestine as the 2023-24 war between Israel and Hamas was escalating to ever more deadly heights.

Abulhawa is a renowned Palestinian author, and this book was an international bestseller back in 2010, but I knew nothing of it at the time. I found the novel, a family saga stretching several generations from 1941 to 2022, so immediate, eye-opening, and moving that it was as if I were reading about the current war in real-time.

I loved it so much that I bought the actual book to keep forever. 

By Susan Abulhawa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mornings in Jenin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A heart-wrenching, powerfully written novel that does for Palestine what The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan.

Mornings in Jenin is a multi-generational story about a Palestinian family. Forcibly removed from the olive-farming village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejos are displaced to live in canvas tents in the Jenin refugee camp. We follow the Abulhejo family as they live through a half century of violent history. Amidst the loss and fear, hatred and pain, as their tents are replaced by more forebodingly permanent cinderblock huts, there is always the waiting, waiting to…


Book cover of Pachinko

Kern Carter Author Of And Then There Was Us

From my list on family drama, sacrifice, and how beautifully messy a family can be.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a large family that initially didn’t include my mother or father. My mother made the sacrifice of leaving our island of Trinidad to make a home for us in Canada. She was separated from us for years while my grandparents raised me and my brothers. I think that type of upbringing triggered my curiosity about what a family can be. When I became a father at 18, the question of what kind of family I would build became the central theme of my life. It still is today, which is why stories that revolve around family are so captivating for me. 

Kern's book list on family drama, sacrifice, and how beautifully messy a family can be

Kern Carter Why did Kern love this book?

I loved this book because it shows generations of family sacrifice and how the decisions we make in our lifetime can live on for decades after we pass.

I rushed to read this book every evening and had to pull myself away. It was so amazing to me that this author could weave through years and years of family history in a clear, coherent, and powerful way. 

By Min Jin Lee,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Pachinko as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* The million-copy bestseller*
* National Book Award finalist *
* One of the New York Times's 10 Best Books of 2017 *
* Selected for Emma Watson's Our Shared Shelf book club *

'This is a captivating book... Min Jin Lee's novel takes us through four generations and each character's search for identity and success. It's a powerful story about resilience and compassion' BARACK OBAMA.

Yeongdo, Korea 1911. In a small fishing village on the banks of the East Sea, a club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja…


Book cover of Romanov

Alyssa Roat Author Of Wraithwood

From my list on clean teen fantasy reads.

Why am I passionate about this?

Do you love YA fantasy, but want some titles you feel confident sharing with your grandmother, younger sibling, mom, teacher? As an avid YA fantasy reader, I know the struggle of finding book recs that are exciting, magical, and wouldn’t make my mother blush. Upon entering the publishing industry, I made this my focus as an agent and now as an editor. As an author, I write YA and NA titles that don’t pull any punches but can be enjoyed by anyone. All 10 of my published books and upcoming releases can be enjoyed by teens, adults, and yes, your grandmother—and here are five more books I think achieve that as well.

Alyssa's book list on clean teen fantasy reads

Alyssa Roat Why did Alyssa love this book?

I love the movie and musical adaptations of Anastasia, so it’s no wonder I love this magical family saga from Nadine Brandes. Brandes effortlessly weaves magic into the tale we thought we knew about Anastasia Romanov. And yes, there is both magic and romance.

With the leader of the Bolshevik army after her, Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov is given a mission to smuggle an ancient spell that might be her family’s only salvation into exile in Siberia. Nastya has barely dabbled in magic, but her only chances of saving herself and her family are to release the spell and deal with the consequences, or to enlist help from Zash, the handsome Bolshevik soldier who seems to be different. This story does contain violence, but overall is another read I both love and could recommend to anyone.

By Nadine Brandes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Romanov as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

My name is Anastasia. The history books say I died. They don't know the half of it.

Anastasia "Nastya" Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family's only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he's hunted Romanov before.

Nastya's only chances of saving herself and her family are either to release the spell and deal with the consequences, or to enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn't act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has…


Book cover of The Emigrants

Edward Dusinberre Author Of Distant Melodies: Music in Search of Home

From my list on loss and discovery.

Why am I passionate about this?

For three decades I have been the first violinist of the Takács Quartet, performing concerts worldwide and based at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I love the ways in which books, like music, offer new and surprising elements at different stages of life, providing companionship alongside joys and sorrows. 

Edward's book list on loss and discovery

Edward Dusinberre Why did Edward love this book?

One of the most original books I have ever read, and as such impossible to classify by genrea dizzying mix of memoir, history, and travel writing. As the separate stories of four apparently unrelated individuals unfold, Sebald exposes a common theme: the loss of identity through trauma and displacement. The stories are devastating and yet there is something hopeful in Sebald’s melancholic and vivid writing, the powerful case he makes for these stories being heard.

By W.G. Sebald, Michael Hulse (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Emigrants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The four long narratives in The Emigrants appear at first to be the straightforward biographies of four Germans in exile. Sebald reconstructs the lives of a painter, a doctor, an elementary-school teacher, and Great Uncle Ambrose. Following (literally) in their footsteps, the narrator retraces routes of exile which lead from Lithuania to London, from Munich to Manchester, from the South German provinces to Switzerland, France, New York, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. Along with memories, documents, and diaries of the Holocaust, he collects photographs-the enigmatic snapshots which stud The Emigrants and bring to mind family photo albums. Sebald combines precise documentary with…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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