10 Middle Eastern Authors You Should Know

Time to add to your reading list
Time to add to your reading list | © Thanakrit Gu/Flickr
Jessica Harn

The Middle East has long been a colorful and vibrant region for literature, poetry, and art; and although much of the storytelling has been oral in many parts of the Middle East, authors have produced so many books and stories in recent years that it’s almost hard to keep up with it all. The list is enormous but here are just a few of the best Middle Eastern authors to keep an eye out for.

Elif Shafak

Turkey’s most popular female author, but also one of the Middle East’s most favorite novelists, Elif Shafak’s novels center around Sufi mysticism, love, and magical realism. Her two most famous books that have gained widespread love across the world are The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi.

Elif Shafak’s novel The Forty Rules of Love

Orhan Pamuk

Susan Abulhawa

One of the most famous modern Palestinian writers and human rights activist, Susan Abulhawa became a household name after the publication of her bestselling novel, Mornings in Jenin. She is also the founder of a non-governmental organization called “Playgrounds for Palestine”, and her second book, The Blue Between Sky and Water, has already been sold in 19 different languages.

Khaled Hosseini

Born in Afghanistan, Khaled Hosseini’s most famous novel is probably The Kite Runner, which won huge acclaim across the world. Originally a physician, he retired and became a full-time writer and has since written other hugely popular books, including A Thousand Splendid Suns and And the Mountains Echoed.

Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner

Inaam Kachachi

An Iraqi author and journalist, Inaam Kachachi continues to write both novels and work as a correspondent for Arabic-language newspapers in Paris. Her novel The American Granddaughter became highly acclaimed and was nominated for the Arabic Booker Prize and shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Etel Adnan

Born in 1925 in Beirut and still loved today as much as she was almost a century ago, Etel Adnan is one of the Middle East’s most favorite poets. Writing novels and poetry in English, French, and Arabic, some of her most well-noted works in English include the novel Sitt Marie Rose and her collection of poetry titled Sea and Fog.

Samar Yazbek

Born in Syria, she was thrust into the limelight when she openly denounced the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in 2011 during the Syrian uprising, although she is a part of his family. Her activism and writing has won her acclaim throughout the Middle East and the world, with some of her most famous works including The Crossing: My Journey to the Shattered Heart of Syria and A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution.

Samar Yazbek’s A Women in the Crossfire

Hawra Al-Nadawi

An Iraqi author born to both Arab and Kurdish parents who were prisoners under Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, Hawra Al-Nadawi herself remembers staying in Saddam’s jails with her mother. Her writing is gaining more and more popularity with its powerfully emotional prose, with her debut novel Under the Copenhagen Sky quickly gaining international recognition.

Badria Al-Bishr

A Saudi Arabian writer and novelist, Badria Al-Bishr continues to write novels focusing on strong female themes despite the pushback from the Saudi state at times. Some of her most notable novels include Hind and the Soldiers, The Seesaw, and Love Stories on Al-Asha Street.

Ahlam Mosteghanemi

Born in Tunisia but originally from Algeria and often called the “world’s best Arabic novelist”, Ahlam Mosteghanemi continues to inspire young readers across the Middle East. Usually writing in Arabic, most of her works have been translated into English because of their popularity, with favorites including Memory in the Flesh, Chaos of the Senses, and The Art of Forgetting.

Ahlam Mosteghanemi’s Memory in the Flesh
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article