Zainab - Haikal“This was first published in Arabic in 1913, and it’s considered the first modern Egyptian novel – the first authentic Arabic novel, even. Haikal was studying in Paris when he wrote the book, and I fell in love with it when I read it about a year ago. It’s about a young girl, Zainab, and she’s part of the fellahin – the poor villagers who live out in the middle of nowhere, the farmers. It’s a love story between her and a local guy. She’s forced into an arranged marriage and it’s basically about her mental and physical deterioration as an effect of her oppression. The author wrote it as a critique of Egyptian society at the time, and people are still very critical of the idea of arranged marriage today. The argument is still very potent. Also, the translation is amazing – it’s very fluent.”

Set in early 20th-century Egypt.

Recommended by Sherif from @DarfPublishers.

Buy the original edition here, or pre-order the new edition.