Explore “What It Means to Be American” and Other Topics with Books by Arab American Authors

April is National Arab American Heritage Month and the Lehigh Libraries are sharing in the celebration of Arab American heritages, histories, and cultures through the creation of a small collection of books and audiobooks on OverDrive

The collection includes novels, short stories and memoirs from authors with personal or family histories from Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Topics covered include marriage, the AIDS pandemic, uprisings and civil wars, exile and immigration, as well as intersectional identities spanning religious and geographic boundaries and crossing the spectrums of gender and sexuality. 

Highlights include works by Laila Lalami, a Moroccan-American and Muslim author who has been described as “a writer of uncommon conviction and tremendous insight” by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Sympathizer (Praise and Reviews – Laila Lalami). Her non-fiction book Conditional Citizens, available as an audiobook, explores what it means to be American in a white supremacist society. It expounds upon her essay in The New York Times where she states that “Muslim and Arab Americans have teetered on the edge of belonging and unbelonging: They may be citizens, but they are also perpetual suspects, always having to show their allegiance through silence or acquiescence” (Lalami).

Looking for a “riveting novel” that was described as “impossible to put down” in Kirkus Reviews this month (The Arsonists’ City)? Try Palestinian American author and psychologist Hala Alyan’s new book The Arsonists’ City which clarifies “the complicated sociopolitical realities surrounding Lebanon’s and Syria’s intertwined histories in terms of class, caste, colonialism, and tribalism” (The Arsonists’ City).

And those are just the highlights. See a full list of titles at: https://lehigh.overdrive.com/collection/1193476

Instructions on how to access and download ebooks and audiobooks are available in this guide. To submit recommendations, please email Phil Hewitt (pjh315@lehigh.edu) or Carrie Baldwin-SoRelle (chb316@lehigh.edu).


Lalami, Laila. “I’m a Muslim and Arab American. Will I Ever Be an Equal Citizen?” The New York Times, 17 Sept. 2020. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/17/magazine/im-a-muslim-and-arab-american-will-i-ever-be-an-equal-citizen.html.

Praise and Reviews – Laila Lalami. https://lailalalami.com/the-other-americans/praise-and-reviews/. Accessed 1 Apr. 2021.

The Arsonists’ City. www.kirkusreviews.com, https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/hala-alyan/the-arsonists-city/. Accessed 1 Apr. 2021.

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