100 books like Season of Migration to the North

By Tayeb Salih, Denys Johnson-Davies,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Cairo: City of Sand

Ronnie Close Author Of Cairo's Ultras: Resistance and Revolution in Egypt’s Football Culture

From my list on Egyptian politics and the 2011 Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer and filmmaker based in Cairo for over a decade. I was inspired to move to Egypt when I visited during the 2011 Revolution and fell in love with the vibrance of the city. Since then Cairo has changed and I have lived through an extraordinary history with some difficult times but always with a sense of curiosity for stories. My book, Cairo’s Ultras, began as a documentary film project in 2012 and I have found many other interesting topics during my time in this enigmatic and fascinating place. I will publish a second book next year, called Decolonising Images, that looks at the photographic heritage and visual culture of Egypt.

Ronnie's book list on Egyptian politics and the 2011 Revolution

Ronnie Close Why did Ronnie love this book?

The book gives the reader a deep layered understanding of Egypt before the 2011 uprising to look at the state of the nation and into the heart of Cairo, an ancient city but now a metropolis of over 20 million. Written with a novelist's flare this is an intimate portrait of the lives of Cairenes that explores hidden aspects of this mysterious city. The author builds an intriguing story on the religious beliefs, family values, negotiating tactics, driving habits, and attitudes towards foreigners. This is a reflection on a wonderous city, a place of sadness and of hope, which uses the metaphor of Saharan desert sand blowing in to shape the sand castle politics of the Mubarak era that would come crashing down in the 2011 Revolution.

By Maria Golia,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Cairo is a 1,400-year-old metropolis whose streets are inscribed with sagas, a place where the pressures of life test people's equanimity to the very limit. Virtually surrounded by desert, sixteen million Cairenes cling to the Nile and each other, proximities that colour and shape lives. Packed with incident and anecdote "Cairo: City of Sand" describes the city's given circumstances and people's attitudes of response. Apart from a brisk historical overview, this book focuses on the present moment of one of the world's most illustrious and irreducible cities. Cairo steps inside the interactions between Cairenes, examining the roles of family, tradition…


Book cover of Red Nile: The Biography of the World's Greatest River

Dan Morrison Author Of The Black Nile: One Man's Amazing Journey Through Peace and War on the World's Longest River

From my list on the Nile and the worlds it created.

Why am I passionate about this?

I traveled the length of the Nile River from source to sea through Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt to write a book that the Daily Beast called "a masterful narrative of investigative reportage, travel writing, and contemporary history," and that the Village Voice named to its ten best books of the year.

Dan's book list on the Nile and the worlds it created

Dan Morrison Why did Dan love this book?

Where I wrote The Black Nile as a white-knuckle current history of the Nile region, British polymath Robert Twigger took the long view to craft an absorbing portrait of the Nile, from Biblical times to the present. Twigger, whose adventures have taken him from the Canadian Rockies to Indonesian hill country to the karate dojo of the Tokyo riot police, has, with Red Nile, written a moving, cinematic masterpiece.

By Robert Twigger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A rip-roaring yet intimate biography of the mighty Nile by Robert Twigger, award-winning author of ANGRY WHITE PYJAMAS. 'A tour de force' FINANCIAL TIMES.

So much begins on the banks of the Nile: all religion, all life, all stories, the script we write in, the language we speak, the gods, the legends and the names of stars. This mighty river that flows through a quarter of all Africa has been history's most sustained creator.

In this dazzling, idiosyncratic journey from ancient times to the Arab Spring, award-winning author Robert Twigger weaves a Nile narrative like no other. As he navigates…


Book cover of The Nile: History's Greatest River

Dan Morrison Author Of The Black Nile: One Man's Amazing Journey Through Peace and War on the World's Longest River

From my list on the Nile and the worlds it created.

Why am I passionate about this?

I traveled the length of the Nile River from source to sea through Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt to write a book that the Daily Beast called "a masterful narrative of investigative reportage, travel writing, and contemporary history," and that the Village Voice named to its ten best books of the year.

Dan's book list on the Nile and the worlds it created

Dan Morrison Why did Dan love this book?

Water expert, academic, and documentary filmmaker Terje Tvedt fell hard for the Nile decades ago. His third book on the life-giving river is an expert weaver's tapestry of history, ecology, and politics on the Nile.

By Terje Tvedt,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"[A] vivid travelogue." New Statesman "Has much to offer." The Spectator "Sparks the imagination." BBC History Magazine "A fascinating study." BBC History Revealed Magazine "Essential reading." All About History "Valiant, valuable and entertaining." Times Literary Supplement The greatest river in the world has a long and fascinating history. Professor Terje Tvedt, one of the world's leading experts on the history of waterways, travels upstream along the river's mouth to its sources. The result is a travelogue through 5000 years and 11 countries, from the Mediterranean to Central Africa. This is the fascinating story of the immense economic, political and mythical…


Book cover of In an Antique Land: History in the Guise of a Traveler's Tale

Mark Weston Author Of The Ringtone and the Drum: Travels in the World's Poorest Countries

From my list on travel in Africa.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I first visited Africa in 2004 I’ve found it difficult to tear myself away. I’ve lived in South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, and Sudan and travelled in all corners of the continent. I’ve participated in a revolution, hung out with the illegal fishermen of Lake Victoria, been cursed—and protectedby witch doctors, and learned Swahili. I’ve also read extensively about the place, written three books about it, and broadcast from it for the BBC World Service. In my other life I research and write about international development for universities and global organisations. This too has a focus on Africa.

Mark's book list on travel in Africa

Mark Weston Why did Mark love this book?

This is a beautifully written tale of the author’s time living in rural Egypt in the 1980s.

Ghosh’s accounts of his meetings and friendships with Egyptians unused to foreigners resonate with my own experiences in rural Africa, and the way he pieces together the long-forgotten history of an anonymous twelfth-century Indian slave and his Arab Jewish trader master and weaves it into the story is astonishingly deft.

I read it again recently and enjoyed it just as much as the first time.

By Amitav Ghosh,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked In an Antique Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Once upon a time an Indian writer named Amitav Ghosh set out an Indian slave, name unknown, who some seven hundred years before had traveled to the Middle East. The journey took him to a small village in Egypt, where medieval customs coexist with twentieth-century desires and discontents. But even as Ghosh sought to re-create the life of his Indian predecessor, he found himself immersed in those of his modern Egyptian neighbors.
   Combining shrewd observations with painstaking historical research, Ghosh serves up skeptics and holy men, merchants and sorcerers. Some of these figures are real, some only imagined, but all…


Book cover of Cities of Salt

Kim Barnes Author Of In the Kingdom of Men

From my list on Arabic writers on the destruction of colonization.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the 1950s, my mother and father left the red dirt of Oklahoma for the forests of Idaho to escape their families’ poverty. Instead of sharecropping, my father became a logger, but my aunt and her husband, a drilling rig roughneck, moved to the deserts of Saudi Arabia to work for Aramco and live in the American compound of Abqaiq. I remember the gifts they brought me: camel hide purses, Aladdin slippers. The Saudis, too, were experiencing rapid modernization and expanding wealth. I became fascinated by the conflict inherent in the sudden enmeshing of cultures and meteoric shift in power and privilege.

Kim's book list on Arabic writers on the destruction of colonization

Kim Barnes Why did Kim love this book?

Translated into English by Peter Theroux, this gorgeously written and emotionally stunning novel is told from the perspective of the Bedouin inhabitants during a time when Americans were arriving by the shipload to develop the oilfields they had discovered. The story is both epic and intimate (and, at points, wittily ironic) and opened my eyes to the vast destruction not only of the land and its people but the very core of their culture. Banned in several Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, this is the first volume of a trilogy (and I recommend them all). 

By Abdelrahman Munif,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first English translation of a major Arab writer's novel that reveals the lifestyle and beliefs of a Bedouin tribe in the 1930s. Set in an unnamed Persian Gulf kingdom, the story tells of the cultural confrontation between American oilmen and a poor oasis community.


Book cover of The Belt

Kim Barnes Author Of In the Kingdom of Men

From my list on Arabic writers on the destruction of colonization.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the 1950s, my mother and father left the red dirt of Oklahoma for the forests of Idaho to escape their families’ poverty. Instead of sharecropping, my father became a logger, but my aunt and her husband, a drilling rig roughneck, moved to the deserts of Saudi Arabia to work for Aramco and live in the American compound of Abqaiq. I remember the gifts they brought me: camel hide purses, Aladdin slippers. The Saudis, too, were experiencing rapid modernization and expanding wealth. I became fascinated by the conflict inherent in the sudden enmeshing of cultures and meteoric shift in power and privilege.

Kim's book list on Arabic writers on the destruction of colonization

Kim Barnes Why did Kim love this book?

Of all the histories, journals, diaries, novels, and memoirs I read while doing research for ITKOM, Ahmed Abodehman’s slim book has lodged itself deepest in my heart. Sometimes referred to as a memoir and at other times as an autobiographical novel, The Belt is less about the changes brought on by the petroleum industry in particular than it is about the dislocation brought on by modernization (much of it driven by the quest for control of the vast oil reserves). The story begins with a tribal elder “examining young Ahmed's knife to determine the boy's masculinity.” With the coming of a government school to the village, such ancient tribal customs are challenged by more urban ideologies and orthodox Islam as the speaker struggles to retain the tribal songs he carries inside himself “like an inexhaustive fire.” With a poet’s sense of image and language, Ahmed Abodehman weaves a gorgeous coming-of-age…

By Ahmed Abodehman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ahmed grows up in a small Saudi village steeped in traditional tribal culture, local legends, family ties, history, and tribal songs. As he becomes a man, the cataclysmic changes of modernity spring up around him. Islam is imposing itself more and more strongly on tribal beliefs; moreover, the city begins to seem strangely attractive to his young mind. Ahmed struggles to come to terms with this newly unfolding world without forsaking his village, family or Hizam, the old man who comes to epitomise the traditional life itself.


Book cover of A Bedouin Boyhood

Kim Barnes Author Of In the Kingdom of Men

From my list on Arabic writers on the destruction of colonization.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the 1950s, my mother and father left the red dirt of Oklahoma for the forests of Idaho to escape their families’ poverty. Instead of sharecropping, my father became a logger, but my aunt and her husband, a drilling rig roughneck, moved to the deserts of Saudi Arabia to work for Aramco and live in the American compound of Abqaiq. I remember the gifts they brought me: camel hide purses, Aladdin slippers. The Saudis, too, were experiencing rapid modernization and expanding wealth. I became fascinated by the conflict inherent in the sudden enmeshing of cultures and meteoric shift in power and privilege.

Kim's book list on Arabic writers on the destruction of colonization

Kim Barnes Why did Kim love this book?

A simple yet elegantly written memoir about growing up in mid-century as a Palestinian Arab Bedouin. Diqs’ focus is not on politics but on family, tribe, and tradition as he details his boyhood and his people’s dislocation and transition from nomads tending their sheep to an agrarian, village-based culture. Diqs’ written memories provided me with a profound and intimate awareness of the details of Bedouin life before the partitioning of Palestine and the petroleum industry’s impact on the Middle East.

By Isaak Diqs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Bedouin Boyhood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Isaak Diqs recalls his life as a member of the nomadic Arab tribe on the Negev Desert in Palestine


Book cover of Brownies and Kalashnikovs: A Saudi Woman's Memoir of American Arabia and Wartime Beirut

Kim Barnes Author Of In the Kingdom of Men

From my list on Arabic writers on the destruction of colonization.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the 1950s, my mother and father left the red dirt of Oklahoma for the forests of Idaho to escape their families’ poverty. Instead of sharecropping, my father became a logger, but my aunt and her husband, a drilling rig roughneck, moved to the deserts of Saudi Arabia to work for Aramco and live in the American compound of Abqaiq. I remember the gifts they brought me: camel hide purses, Aladdin slippers. The Saudis, too, were experiencing rapid modernization and expanding wealth. I became fascinated by the conflict inherent in the sudden enmeshing of cultures and meteoric shift in power and privilege.

Kim's book list on Arabic writers on the destruction of colonization

Kim Barnes Why did Kim love this book?

Because 20th Century Aramco was a closed company inside a closed culture inside a closed country, and because the laws of Sharia and strict corporate guidelines silenced the stories of women, I found it frustrating if not impossible to uncover narratives written by female Arab authors. Then I discovered Basrawi’s fascinating memoir about growing up in Dhahran. It provided riveting insight into the life of a teenage girl whose father was one of the first Saudi Muslim employees allowed to live inside the gated community. Basrawi vividly details coming of age in the middle of a white community and her eventual move to Beirut, where she endures the strife of the country’s civil war. Her account is rare, invaluable, and poignantly told—a reminder that it is literature that offers the greatest understanding of the immediate and lasting effects of colonial imperialism.

By Fadia Basrawi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fadia, a Saudi Arab, grew up in the strictly circumscribed and tailor-made 'desert Disneyland' of Aramco (the Arabian American Oil Company). This slice of modern, suburban, middle America was located in Dhahran, Aramco's administrative headquarters in Saudi Arabia, a theocratic Muslim kingdom run according to strict Wahabbi Shari'a law. Eventually, after only brief holidays abroad visiting relatives in colourful Arab cities like Medina, Damascus and Alexandria, Fadia moved to Beirut, the glitzy 'Paris of the Middle East', to attend high school. In Beirut she fell in love with a passionate and idealistic Lebanese journalist with whom she eloped against her…


Book cover of Ancient Nubia: African Kingdoms on the Nile

Solange Ashby Author Of Calling Out to Isis: The Enduring Nubian Presence at Philae

From my list on ancient Nubia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became interested in the art and written language of ancient Egypt due to its beauty and antiquity. Writing is art and art often contains text in this oldest written African language. I am fascinated with the process of religious change, intercultural interaction, and resistance to colonization. All of these themes are present in the study of the last functioning Egyptian temple, Philae, which is dedicated to the worship of Isis. What is often omitted from the history of this exceptional Egyptian temple is the fact that it was Nubians who defended and sustained the traditional religious practices long after most Egyptians had converted to Christianity. I wrote my book to research and share this neglected history.

Solange's book list on ancient Nubia

Solange Ashby Why did Solange love this book?

A beautiful coffee table book, complete with stunning photographs by Chester Higgins, this publication includes maps, general articles about Nubia, and a gazetteer of stunning sites from Gebel Qeili and Naqa in the south to Philae, Elephantine, and Aswan in the North. The general articles range from art and architecture, kings and kingship, religion, texts, and women in ancient Nubia. This book is a beautiful and welcoming introduction to the vibrant land of ancient Nubia.

By Marjorie M. Fisher (editor), Peter Lacovara (editor), Salima Ikram (ed)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

2012 American Publishers (PROSE) Awards winner for Best Archaeology & Anthropology Book For most of the modern world, ancient Nubia seems an unknown and enigmatic land. Only a handful of archaeologists have studied its history or unearthed the Nubian cities, temples, and cemeteries that once dotted the landscape of southern Egypt and northern Sudan. Nubia’s remote setting in the midst of an inhospitable desert, with access by river blocked by impassable rapids, has lent it not only an air of mystery, but also isolated it from exploration. Over the past century, particularly during this last generation, scholars have begun to…


Book cover of The Fugitives

Raphael Cormack Author Of Midnight in Cairo: The Divas of Egypt's Roaring '20s

From my list on popular culture along the Nile.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and an Arabic to English translator, with a PhD in Arabic Theatre from the University of Edinburgh. In recent years, I have gravitated towards the history of popular culture and the demi-monde in the Middle East. The stories of singers and dancers say much more to me than the conventional subjects of histories of the Arab world – politicians, soldiers, etc. Through them, we can see the Middle East in a way that we seldom see in the West means much more to a lot of the people who live there.

Raphael's book list on popular culture along the Nile

Raphael Cormack Why did Raphael love this book?

The Sudanese music scene of the 1970s is legendary. With stars like jazz king Sharhabil Ahmed and the girl group al-Balabil, the Nile was really swinging. Jamal Mahjoub, a British-Sudanese author who also writes crime fiction under the name Parker Bilal, has fun with this golden age in his new novel, The Fugitives. An English teacher in Sudan receives a surprise invitation to perform in America and has to re-form his father’s old band, The Kamanga Kings, who rocked Sudan in the years before Omar al-Bashir’s dictatorship and take them to Trump’s America.

By Jamal Mahjoub,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Kamanga Kings, a Khartoum jazz band of yesteryear, is presented with the opportunity of a lifetime when a surprise letter arrives inviting them to perform in Washington, D.C. The only problem is . . . the band no longer exists.

Rushdy is a disaffected secondary school teacher and the son of an original Kamanga King. Determined to see a life beyond his own home, he sets out to revive the band. Aided by his unreliable best friend, all too soon an unlikely group are on their way, knowing the eyes of their country are on them.

As the group…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Sudan, romantic love, and the Nile river?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Sudan, romantic love, and the Nile river.

Sudan Explore 23 books about Sudan
Romantic Love Explore 867 books about romantic love
The Nile River Explore 28 books about the Nile river