April is Arab American Heritage Month

April 1, 2021

“Arab American” encompasses people with ancestry from a wide range of Arabic-speaking countries and regions in the Middle East and parts of northern Africa. Dive into this extensive, though not comprehensive, list of literature, articles, films, organizations, and archives to learn about the rich history, cultural influences, and contributions of Arab Americans.

Heritage month events

Arab Heritage Month events (mid March to mid April) offered by Multi-ethnic Student Affairs (MESA) at the University of Michigan

Celebrating Arabic Written Heritage (April 13), a virtual open house featuring prominent Arabic writings from the classical and post-classical periods

Arab American literature

Novels, poems, and essays by Arab American writers

Mizna: opinion, poetry, short stories, essays, and art by Arab Americans, a journal

Arab American Writing, a series from Syracuse University Press

Love is an ex-country, by Randa Jarrar (2021)

Deluge, by Leila Chatti (2020)

The Thirty Names of Night, by Zeyn Joukhadar (2020)

I was their american dream, a graphic memoir by Malaka Gharib (2019)

The wrong end of the table, a mostly comic memoir of a Muslim Arab American woman just trying to fit in, by Ayser Salman (2019)

Mare Nostrum, poems by Khaled Mattawa (2019)

Amreekiya, a novel by Lena Mahmoud (2018)

The opening, by Leila Abdelrazaq (2017)

Salt houses, by Hala Alyan (2017)

Hagar poems, by Mohja Kahf (2016)

A curious land: stories from home, by Susan Muaddi Darraj (2015)

Birds of paradise, a novel by Diana Abu-Jaber (2012)

My name on his tongue, poems / Laila Halaby (2012)

Loom : a novel / Thérèse Soukar Chehade (2010)

Angeleno days, an Arab American writer on family, place, and politics, by Gregory Orfalea (2009)

The Night counter: a novel, by Alia Yunis (2009)

Letters from Cairo, by Pauline Kaldas (2007)

The new belly dancer of the galaxy, by Frances Khirallah Noble (2007)

The Cairo House: a novel, by Samia Serageldin (2000)

Hayati, my life: a novel, by Miriam Cooke (2000)

Thinking class, sketches from a cultural worker, by Joanna Kadi (1996)

Anthologies

Beyond memory: an anthology of contemporary Arab American creative nonfiction, edited by Pauline Kaldas and Khaled Mattawa (2020)

Four Arab American Plays, works by Leila Buck, Jamil Khoury, Yussef El Guindi, Lameece Issaq, and Jacob Kader; edited by Michael Malek Najjar; afterword by Jamil Khoury (2014)

Inclined to speak, an anthology of contemporary Arab American poetry edited by Hayan Charara (2008)

Dinarzad’s children: an anthology of contemporary Arab American fiction, edited by Pauline Kaldas and Khaled Mattawa (2004)

Food for our grandmothers: writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian feminists, edited by Joanna Kadi (1994)

Grape leaves: a century of Arab-American poetry, edited by Gregory Orfalea and Sharif Elmusa (1988)

Studies and critical essays

Poetics of visibility in the contemporary Arab American novel, by Mazen Naous (2020)

Articulations of resistance, transformative practices in Arab-American poetry, by Sirène H. Harb (2020)

Arab American novels post-9/11, classical storytelling motifs against outsidership, by Marie-Christin Sawires-Masseli (2018)

Aqlām mahjarīyah, by Kāmil Maḥmūd Bazzī (2017) = أقلام مهجرية \ كامل محمود بزي 

Contemporary Arab-American literature, transnational reconfigurations of citizenship and belonging, by Carol Fadda-Conrey (2014)

Arab American literature and culture, edited by Alfred Hornung and Martina Kohl (2012)

Arab-American women’s writing and performance: orientalism, race and the idea of the Arabian nights, by Somaya Sami Sabry (2011)

Arab American literary fictions, cultures, and politics, by Steven Salaita (2007)

Contemporary Arab American women writers, hyphenated identities and border crossings, by Amal Talaat Abdelrazek (2007)

Scheherazade’s legacy: Arab and Arab American women on writing, edited by Susan Muaddi Darraj, foreword by Barbara Nimri Aziz (2004)

Etel Adnan: critical essays on the Arab-American writer and artist, edited by Lisa Suhair Majaj and Amal Amireh (2001)

History, culture, and society

History of Arab Americans: exploring diverse roots, by Aminah al-Deen (2019)

Arab Routes: Pathways to Syrian California, by Sarah M.A. Gualtieri (2020)

Arab New York: politics and community in the everyday lives of Arab Americans, by Emily Regan Wills (2019)

Breaking broken English: Black-Arab literary solidarities and the politics of language, by Michelle Hartman (2019)

Arab America: gender, cultural politics, and activism, by Nadine Naber (2012)

Arab & Arab American feminisms: gender, violence, & belonging, edited by Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany, and Nadine Naber (2011)

The Rise of the Arab American left : activists, allies, and their fight against imperialism and racism, 1960s-1980s, by Pamela E. Pennock (2017)

Looking for Palestine: growing up confused in an Arab-American family, by Najla Said (2013)

Arab Detroit 9/11: life in the terror decade, edited by Nabeel Abraham, Sally Howell, and Andrew Shryock (2011)

Homeland insecurity: the Arab American and Muslim American experience after 9/11, by Louise A. Cainkar (2009)

A country called Amreeka: Arab roots, American stories, by Alia Malek (2009)

How does it feel to be a problem?: being young and Arab in America, by Moustafa Bayoumi (2008)

Remember me to Lebanon: Stories of Lebanese Women in America, (2007)

Arab-American faces and voices: the origins of an immigrant community, by Elizabeth Boosahda (2003)

Bint Arab: Arab and Arab American women in the United States, by Evelyn Shakir (1997)

The Arabic language in America, edited by Aleya Rouchdy (1992)

Arab Americans in film: from Hollywood and Egyptian stereotypes to self-representation, by Waleed F. Mahdi (2020)

Interrogating secularism: race and religion in Arab transnational literature and art, by Danielle Haque (2019)

Arab American aesthetics: literature, material culture, film, and theatre, edited by Therí A. Pickens (2018)

Arab American drama, film and performance: a critical study, 1908 to the present, by Michael Malek Najjar (2015)

Arabs and Muslims in the media: race and representation after 9/11, by Evelyn Alsultany (2012)

Etching our own image: voices from within the Arab-American art movement, edited by Anan Ameri and Holly Arida (2007)

In/visible: contemporary art by Arab American artists, Yasser Aggour, Rheim Alkadhi, Doris Bittar, Abdelai Dahrouch, Mariam Ghani, John Halaka, Nabila Hilmi, Emily Jacir, Mohammad O. Khalil, Amina Mansour, Sumayyah Samaha, Athir Shayota, Helen Zughaib, Afaf Zurayk, exhibit curated by Salwa Mikdadi (2005), Arab American National Museum in Dearborn

Browse the Critical Arab American Studies series from Syracuse University Press 

Search reference works on Arab American experiences, encompassing culture, society, and history, including Arab American Music by Kenneth S Habib (Grove Music Online) 

Films by or about Arab Americans

The feeling of being watched, Impact Partners presents; a Multitude Films & Inverse Surveillance Project production; written & directed by Assia Boundaoui (2018)

A thousand & one journeys: the Arab Americans by Zeitoune Film Works, a film by Abe Kasbo (2015)

May in the Summer: a film by Cherien Dabis (2013), available to U-M affiliates for streaming via Kanopy 

Amreeka: a film by Cherien Dabis (2009)

Fordson: faith fasting football, by North Shore Films presented in association with Quraishi Productions; a film by Rashid Ghazi (2011)

Detroit unleaded, written, produced, and directed by Rola Nashef (2007)

I exist: voices from the Middle Eastern lesbian & gay community (2004)

Benaat Chicago = Daughters of Chicago: growing up Arab and female in Chicago by Chicago Center of the American Friends Service Committee; produced and directed by Jennifer Bing-Canar and Mary Zerkel (1996)

In my own skin: the complexity of living as an Arab in America, co-produced and directed by Jennifer Jajeh and Nikki Byrd (2001)

Arab American groups on campus

U-M Arab and Muslim American Studies (AMAS) in the Department of American Culture, LSA

Hikayat, a student group focused on Arab, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and South West Asian/North African (SWANA) arts and literature

Arab Student Association

Iraqi Student Association

Chaldean American Student Association 

Lebanese Student Association 

Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE) for Palestine solidarity

Have a question about Arab American resources? Contact Evyn Kropf, Librarian for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, at ekropf@umich.edu; or Charles Ransom, Multicultural Studies Librarian, at ransomcg@umich.edu.

Detail from "The Fig Tree" by Leila Abdelrazaq.

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