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Great list! I highly recommend anything by Pamuk.

Claire (The Captive Reader)

A wonderful list! It's been far too long since I read the Cairo Trilogy and, though I loved it, I was probably too young to fully appreciate it then. Time for a reread!


A wonderful list but I'm a bit shocked. I have at least 5 of those books on my TBR pile and wasn't even aware of it.
I started Lolita in Teheran. It's fantastic but gave up on it because I had no time. Now I need to start it again but that shouldn't matter, I liked it a lot.
Richard wrote his funniest negative review about Pamuk's Snow. I have it but since that review I have a feeling I will never read it.
The essay collection by Nick Hornby I'm reading has a few chapters of different books. One is Persepolis. That should give me a good impression.
I like the sound of Girls in Riyadh and am looking forward to your review.

Liz F

I have copies of Map of Love, Palace Walk and Reading Lolita on my shelves but typically I haven't read any of them! I think I have one of Orhan Pamuk's books too but I can't remember which one.
Copies of Persepolis and Embroideries are waiting for me at the library, so I might start with those - I might manage a graphic book (my first!)when I can't cope with anything more demanding!


I've read Map of Love and The Yacoubian Building, both of which I enjoyed. I saw Alla Al Aswany interviewed recently about the political upheavals in Egypt - he is a very interesting man.


This is a fascinating list--it looks like you've found a lot of great books to entertain while they educate! I'll be interested to hear more about them. I'm ashamed to say I know nothing of the literature of the Middle East. I must expand my reading horizons!


Nice list! I enjoyed Reading Lolita in Tehran even though it isn't a perfect book. We take being able to read whatever we want for granted and this book is a good reminder about how in some places reading can be dangerous. I also enjoyed Snow. It is a hard book though and if I had not read it for a book group I'm not sure I wouldn't haven given up on it after the first 50 pages.

Buried In Print

This list could fill quite a gap that exists in my reading; I've only read Persepolis and Azar Nafisi's book and half of Map of Love, which was a library due-date issue at the time and not any reflection of how much I enjoyed it (you know how that goes!). Reading projects are just amazing. Addictive, too, perhaps?


We lived in Morocco for two years and I got quite involved with books from the region, but I do need to read more from non- Anglo viewpoints.
A Thousand and One Nights is a wonderful introduction to story telling and gives a glimpse into the Arab world.
Peter Mayne's short 1950's book A Year In Marrakesh (not to be confused with Peter Mayle's Year in Provence) is wonderfully evocative even after 50 years.
Leonora Peet's hard to get hold of Women of Marrakesh published in the 1950's is the best book of all.
I will get back to you on another super book whose name is slipping in and out of memory....

Sort of liked "Reading Lolita" but couldn't keep the people in it straight.

Persepholis was SUPER


Mernissi, Fatima Dreams Of Trespass : Tales Of A Harem Girlhood --excellent.
Also The Year of the Elephant by a Moroccan woman.
Will have to look that up too.....!


Abouzeid, Leila Year Of The Elephant

You might also like Crossing Mandelbaum Gate by Kai Bird which came out last year.
About his childhood and youth in Jerusalem, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.


I had a hard time getting into Reading Lolita in Tehran but will hope to revisit it again one day. I'll be reading Late for Tea at the Deer Palace which tells the story of a woman who returns to Iraq and reconnects with her roots. I can't recommend it yet but you might consider it. I am currently reading Saved by Beauty by Roger Housden, the tale of a man who journeyed to Iran to find the "real" country. It is a beautiful story so far and I can recommend it also. Good luck with your reading and thank you for all of the good links that I will be off to check out now.


There are so many parts of this world still waiting to be discovered (by me f.i.). Last month I read Diana Wolkstein Inanna(Inanna's Stories and Hymns)located in Sumer, which would now be near Iraq and Turkey. Isn't it exciting to find a whole new world opening itself for you?


I haven't really read anything set in the Middle East... I really should at some point.


Tiina--So glad to hear that--I've got several of his books and hope to read something by him!

Claire--I have slowly acquired all three books used. I love the new reissues of them--very nicely designed. I had heard they were good--hopefully I can read the first one this year. He seems to be a good author to start with for Arabic/Egyptian literature.

Caroline--It's scary how those books accumulate without your even realizing it. I often forget how many really wonderful books I have on hand until I am looking for something else--then I drag out several more books than what I was originally looking for. I'm curious about Richard's review, but maybe I had better wait to try the book again before reading it to see what my own reaction will be! :) I have that Hornby book--I'll have to see what he wrote about Persepolis. And I had the same reaction with Reading Lolita--timing was off for me before, but I think I would do much better with it now.

Liz--Ditto for me! I am so good at collecting books, but as many as I read (and I read a lot at once) I always feel like I still always have way too many unread books! So glad you're going to try the Satrapi books--they will be quick reads--especially good if you have limited reading time at the moment. Please let me know what you think!

Joanne--I'm glad you enjoyed them--I hope I like them, too. I wouldn't mind starting one of them now, but I keep looking at my current reads pile and my library books and know I had better wait!

Kathy--That is me exactly--I know far too little in general. And while I try and keep up on current events, I haven't been so interested in reading literature from the are, so this should be good. The timing is right and I'm very curious at the moment.

Stefanie-After hearing comments I'm wishing I could start Reading Lolita right now. And Pamuk seems like a challenging author. I tried him before but I didn't stick it out and I should have. But I think I would do much better now that I have an active interest in reading about the region. We'll see...not sure when I can start it (always the case).

Buried in Print--Yes, very addictive. I think part of the fun is that I haven't been interested in reading books from the area before and have nothing on hand so it's been great fun exploring authors and trying to get my hands on books. You've done better than me in terms of reading--I have only read the first Persepolis. Hopefully I'll be changing that soon. I've got several little projects going on now!

Elizabeth--How cool! I have never been anywhere close to the Middle East or North Africa. I've even been thinking maybe I could travel to Morocco--not sure how easy it is for a woman alone to travel there, but I will be reading about it in any case. Thanks for all the titles--wonderful! I'll be adding them to my wishlist. I do actually have Dreams of Trespass by Mernisi, which I bought years ago and was thinking that I would like to read 1001 Arabian Nights--I have even bought the first two of the three volumes already. I'm happy to have the other titles--even if they are by Anglo writers. I'm curious about it all!

Kathleen--Thanks for the suggestions--I'll check them out/add them to my wishlist. Both are totally new to me, so I am always happy to have new books to explore. I had the same problem with Reading Lolita--I think I will do better with it now, and after talking about it I wouldn't mind giving it another go right now! I'm very excited about this little project.

Catharina--It is overwhelming to think of all the places there are that I know nothing or little about. So many books to read. I guess it is best go go with where your interests are at the moment. It is indeed like having a whole new world opening up--this is exactly what I love about reading! :)

Kailana--I hadn't either--the timing is right for me now, so I am really enjoying myself.

Karen K.

The only one on your list I've read is Persepolis, which I loved. I started Reading Lolita in Tehran but gave up -- I found it was all about the narrator and not about the book group, which really annoyed me.

I'm supposed to read Palace Walk with my classics book group this summer, so I hope to get to it this year.

I don't know if it's authentic, but I really liked a book called The Tattooed Map by Barbara Hodgson. It's out of print but worth looking for, though it's about an American woman in Morocco. Might not fit what you're reading, but still interesting, and the photos are lovely.


I'd really like to get to my copy of Reading Lolita in Tehran, which has always struck me as a fascinating book. The author of that has also written her autobiography, which I liked the sound of so much, I bought (and have also failed to read yet - sigh!). This is a wonderful list and one I will have to refer to again, as I confess that this is a blank area of my reading, and there are many tempting books that you've discovered!


Karen--I actually read The Tattooed Map last year or the year before for the Doves Postal group and loved it. I wish I had my own copy but it is OOP, so I didn't bother trying to get a copy. I love stories like that--with all the ephemera--authentic or not it was fun reading! I hope to read something by Mahfouz this year, too. It would be fun to read him in a group setting. And I had a hard time reading Reading Lolita in Teheran and set it aside as well. I am hoping to do better this time around. It's hard when you have an idea in mind for what a book will be about and then it turns out to be something else entirely. We'll see how it goes this year with it, though I'm not sure when it'll make its way to the top of my pile.

Litlove--I've seen the other book by Nafisi and would like to read it, too. Maybe they can be read separately, but I have it in my head that I need to read Reading Lolita first. I have it on hand and will give it another try. I've a big blank in my reading when it comes to this region, too, but it's fun to explore new books and authors--it helps that I am very much in the mood at the moment, too.

Liz F

I read both Persepolis and Embroideries over the weekend and loved them both.
Persepolis is certainly an eye opener - obviously I remember the press coverage of the upheavals in Iran that were covered by the book but seeing it from the point of view of an Iranian woman who lived through it was fascinating.
I am now looking for the second book to find out what happened next.
Thanks so much for alerting me to them!


Liz--Weren't they great? I'm glad you enjoyed them and I have Persepolis 2 on my pile as well. I don't know much about that region at all so these books really are interesting. I should really reread Persepolis as I have forgotten too much.

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