The Guardian asked me to contribute to their regular feature in which authors pick their top 10 novels on a particular subject. Read my top 10 novels set in the Arab world here.
Most of the writers I picked are Arab, though there are a couple of Westerners and Tariq Ali
is a Pakistani. This, by the way, is what I wrote in introducing the list:
"The Arab literary world and Western publishing don't cross over much. The literature of the Arab world is largely unknown in the west, and even westerners who write about Arabs are sometimes seen as fringe, cult writers. That comes at a cost to the west, because literature could be such an important bridge between two cultures so much at odds. What we see of the Arab world comes from news reports of war and other madness. Literature would be a much more profound contact.
"I live in Jerusalem and write fiction about the Palestinians because it's a better way to understand the reality of life in Palestine than journalism and non-fiction. The books in this list, in their different ways, unveil elements of life across the Arab world that you won't see in the newspaper or on TV."