Oman hit the headlines recently after the passing of the country’s ruler of 49 years, Sultan Qaboos Al Said, in January 2020. These three books constitute an essential reading list for anyone with an interest in Oman - whether academic, professional or otherwise. They include both non-fiction and fiction books covering useful information about the country’s fascinating history, complex politics, and the ever-evolving cultural dynamics that make the Sultanate so special.
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers tells the encapsulating story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a Yemeni-American who travels to Yemen to start a social enterprise to reignite the ancient art of Yemeni coffee. There’s only one problem – when Mokhtar set out in 2014, Yemen was on the brink of civil war.
Yemen: The poorest country in the Middle East; The corner of the Arabian Peninsula widely ignored as the oil monarchies of the Gulf rose to riches and global prominence; And now, embroiled in a deadly civil war protracted by the interference of external powers, further destabilising an already war-torn region. Yemeni politics can be highly confusing for outsiders. These 10 books will help you understand this complex country and the ongoing conflict.
Zainab Salbi is an Iraqi humanitarian, author and activist who founded Women for Women International – a not-for-profit organisation supporting women in conflict-afflicted areas. Growing up in Baghdad, her parents’ reluctant friendship with Saddam Hussein cast a dark and repressive shadow over her childhood. Today, Salbi is telling her remarkable story in a brave and … Continue reading Freedom Is an Inside Job: Iraqi Activist Zainab Salbi on how to heal the world
By Katie Holland In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, French–Moroccan author Leïla Slimani admitted using the grisly subject matter of her novel Lullaby — the murder of two children at the hands of their nanny — to illuminate the “utterly boring and repetitive” life of a childminder, grounding the brutal crime in a … Continue reading Leïla Slimani’s Lullaby: A Post-feminist Wakeup Call
By Katie Holland As Ghada Samman’s headstrong heroine Zain discovers, winning her right to live as a free, independent woman entails answering to her own moral compass, fending off constant unsolicited judgement and, naturally, finding her way around a revolver. In this story of a young woman’s bold and noble quest for freedom, Samman weaves … Continue reading Farewell, Damascus: On the Road to Freedom