72 books like The Palestinians

By Rosemary Sayigh,

Here are 72 books that The Palestinians fans have personally recommended if you like The Palestinians. 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 Exile's Return: The Making of a Palestinian-American

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?

If you only ever read one Palestinian memoirist, it should be Fawaz Turki.

He published three book-length memoirs, all excellent, but this is his most comprehensive autobiography and as such the must-read of all his works. It covers his early years in Haifa, his family’s displacement to Lebanon in 1948, and his subsequent adolescence in Burj al-Barajneh refugee camp; as well as his later studies and career in the US.

Exile’s Return is organized around his first return visit to Palestine in the 1990s, where he comes face-to-face with the realities of the Israeli occupation and continuing Palestinian dispossession. There are now many brilliant memoirs and autobiographies by Palestinian refugees, but Turki remains the memoirist par excellence in this genre. 

By Fawaz Turki,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Exile's Return as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A memoir tells of a Palestinian exile's return to his family's West Bank home after forty years of Western life, his dismay at the rigid conformity of Palestinian society, and his recognition that he has become a Palestinian American


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 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 The Holocaust and the Nakba: A New Grammar of Trauma and History

Paul Mendes-Flohr Author Of A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs

From my list on truth and Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation.

Why am I passionate about this?

My engagement in the topic has two distinct vectors, academic, and personal, or, if you wish, existential. My academic engagement began when Buber's son Raphael (1900-91), who served as the Executor of  the Martin Buber Literary Estate, invited me to assemble and edit his father's writings on the "Arab Question." He explained that of all of his father's publications, his ramified writings promoting the political and human dignity of the Palestinian Arabs spoke most dearly and, as a citizen of the State of Israel, most immediately to him. I accepted Rafael's invitation with alacrity, for like Raphael I'm an Israeli by choice, having emigrated to the country in 1970. 

Paul's book list on truth and Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation

Paul Mendes-Flohr Why did Paul love this book?

In this groundbreaking book, leading Arab and Jewish intellectuals examine how and why the Holocaust and the Nakba are interlinked without blurring fundamental differences between them. While these two foundational tragedies are often discussed separately and in abstraction from the constitutive historical global contexts of nationalism and colonialism, The Holocaust and the Nakba explores the historical, political, and cultural intersections between them. The majority of the contributors argue that these intersections are embedded in cultural imaginations, colonial and asymmetrical power relations, realities, and structures. Focusing on them paves the way for a new political, historical, and moral grammar that enables a joint Arab-Jewish dwelling and supports historical reconciliation in Israel/Palestine.

This book does not seek to draw a parallel or comparison between the Holocaust and Nakba or to merely inaugurate a “dialogue” between them. Instead, it searches for a new historical and political grammar for relating and narrating their…

By Bashir Bashir (editor), Amos Goldberg (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this groundbreaking book, leading Arab and Jewish intellectuals examine how and why the Holocaust and the Nakba are interlinked without blurring fundamental differences between them. While these two foundational tragedies are often discussed separately and in abstraction from the constitutive historical global contexts of nationalism and colonialism, The Holocaust and the Nakba explores the historical, political, and cultural intersections between them. The majority of the contributors argue that these intersections are embedded in cultural imaginations, colonial and asymmetrical power relations, realities, and structures. Focusing on them paves the way for a new political, historical, and moral grammar that enables…


Book cover of Jokes for the Gunmen

Selma Dabbagh Author Of Out Of It

From my list on being Palestinian.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father is Palestinian, my mother English. I am a typical diaspora Palestinian, having moved many times. I’m intrigued by what this highly politicized nationality–being Palestinian–does to peoples’ emotions, their desire to be accepted and thrive, their sense of community, their ability to deal with the challenges and joys of political engagement as well as the difficulties of not being political if they choose not to be. Being Palestinian is an extreme case of what humans can be forced to endure as political and social animals. Living under military occupation gives rise to huge sacrifices and pure heroism in the most quotidian way. Acts that deserve recognition.

Selma's book list on being Palestinian

Selma Dabbagh Why did Selma love this book?

Take the bleakest setting you can imagine–such as a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon –quadruple the population, encircle it, populate it with militias, then turn yourself into an absurdist or a surrealist to describe it. This seems to be the task that Maarouf has set himself with this collection of short stories, which are as funny and surprising as they are somber and sobering.

He is a poet and a comedian. The poet in him stops, dwells, absorbs, and is porous to the unfolding loss around him before the comedian kicks in with his will to survive. A quirky, uncanny collection. 

By Mazen Maarouf, Jonathan Wright (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2019

A brilliant collection of fictions in the vein of Roald Dahl, Etgar Keret and Amy Hempel. These are stories of what the world looks like from a child's pure but sometimes vengeful or muddled perspective. These are stories of life in a war zone, life peppered by surreal mistakes, tragic accidents and painful encounters. These are stories of fantasist matadors, lost limbs and perplexed voyeurs. This is a collection about sex, death and the all-important skill of making life into a joke. These are unexpected stories by a very fresh voice. These…


Book cover of Israel's Border Wars, 1949-1956

Ian Lustick Author Of Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality

From my list on origins of Israeli policies toward Palestinians.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began studying the Israeli-Palestinian relationship as an idealistic Brandeis University student living in Jerusalem in 1969, when I directly encountered the Palestinian problem and the realities of the occupation. Trained at Berkeley to be a political scientist I devoted my life to finding a path to a two-state solution. In 2010 I reached the tragic conclusion that the “point of no return” toward Israeli absorption of the occupied territories had indeed been passed. Bored with the ideas that my old way of thinking was producing, I forced myself to think, as Hannah Arendt advised, “without a bannister.” Paradigm Lost is the result.

Ian's book list on origins of Israeli policies toward Palestinians

Ian Lustick Why did Ian love this book?

In this startling and deeply researched volume, Benny Morris shows why the war of 1948, including Israeli expulsions of Palestinian Arabs during the fighting, was not itself the cause of the Nakba, the “catastrophe,” that resulted in three-quarters of a million Palestinian stateless Palestinians. The real cause, and that which accounts for much of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as it exists today, is the decision taken after the war to bar return of the refugees to their homes. Morris shows, year by year, how that decision was brutally and systematically enforced by barriers, reprisal raids, killing zones, and forcible expulsions. No other book comes close to the detail provided here, about the early 1950s campaign against “infiltration” that doomed Palestinian refugees to generations of exile, about the thinking of the Israeli politicians, officials, and officers who designed and implemented this ruthless effort, and about its unanticipated and costly consequences.

By Benny Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Israel's Border Wars, 1949-1956 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This revised and updated paperback edition of a highly successful study looks at the development of Israeli-Arab relations during the formative years 1949 to 1956, focusing on Arab infiltration into Israel and Israeli retaliation. Palestinian refugee raiding and cross-border attacks by Egyptian-controlled irregulars and commandos were a core phenomenon during this period and one of the chief causes of Israel's invasion of Sinai and the Gaza strip, the Israeli part of
the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1956.

Benny Morris probes the types of Arab infiltration and the attitude of Arab governments towards the phenomenon, and traces the evolution of…


Book cover of The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace

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?

What is the core of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and what is the key to its solution? In this groundbreaking work, Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf argue that the answer is not settlements or holy places or even the absence of a Palestinian state. Instead, the core of the conflict is the Palestinian national movement’s insistence on “right of return” of millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees to what is now the state of Israel – rather than resettlement in a future Palestinian state. What Palestinian leaders have effectively done, argue the authors, is link the end of the conflict to a “solution” that will mean the end of a sovereign Jewish state. The authors, who support the creation of a Palestinian state, argue that its creation depends on the willingness of Palestinian leaders to give up their dream of destroying Israel through a shift in its demographic balance. Until that…

By Adi Schwartz, Einat Wilf,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Two prominent Israeli liberals argue that for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians to end with peace, Palestinians must come to terms with the fact that there will be no "right of return."

In 1948, seven hundred thousand Palestinians were forced out of their homes by the first Arab-Israeli War. More than seventy years later, most of their houses are long gone, but millions of their descendants are still registered as refugees, with many living in refugee camps. This group―unlike countless others that were displaced in the aftermath of World War II and other conflicts―has remained unsettled, demanding to…


Book cover of Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Author Of Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By: How One Woman Confronted the Greatest Humanitarian Crisis of Our Time

From my list on the shifting dynamics in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

Conflict resolution and intergroup relations are my passions. Perhaps because I’m a child of the Holocaust. My parents and I arrived in the U.S. as stateless refugees. The Holocaust primed me to explore why religion inspires so much hate. My career as a criminologist got me interested in the link between religion and violence. My refugee roots led me to an International Rescue Committee report on the Syrian crisis. That report hit me hard and felt very personal because it echoed my own family’s suffering in the Holocaust. I saw an opportunity to build bridges between enemies—Israel and Syria, Jews and Muslims—while also saving lives.  

Georgette's book list on the shifting dynamics in the Middle East

Georgette F. Bennett Ph.D. Why did Georgette love this book?

I was blown away by this narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the Palestinian perspective. Sari Nusseibeh is the scion of one of the oldest and most distinguished Palestinian families. So important are they that the Nusseibehs hold the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and are charged with opening the Church each day. Despite the fact that Sari and his family lost so much when Israel declared statehood in 1948, I was moved by the absence of malice in what I found to be a balanced account of “the Nakbah.” After reading the book, I was eager to meet Sari, who was at the time president of Al Quds University. My husband and I did get to spend a day with him on campus, where we learned even more about the Palestinian side of the conflict.

By Sari Nusseibeh, Anthony David,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Once Upon a Country as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

These extraordinary memoirs give us a rare view into what the Arab-Israeli conflict has meant for one Palestinian family over the generations. Nusseibeh also interweaves his own story with that of the Palestinians as a people, always speaking his mind, and apportioning blame where he feels it due. Hated by extremists on both sides, his is a rare voice.

"This autobiography? carries the passion that might embolden ordinary Israelis and Palestinians to bypass the politicians and establish the peace that all but the armoured men desperately want." The Independent

"Nusseibeh's formidable achievement? leaves a drop of despair, because of how…


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