Read Your Way Around the Muslim Ban Countries

PotUS 45’s current travel restrictions, dubbed the ‘Muslim travel ban’ have been little out of the news all week as restrictions are put on all travellers, as opposed to those involved in criminality. If you’re outraged by this movement that has left both foreign travellers and Green Card holders stranded, then you may be looking to show some support, and as always we’re doing that in a bookish way, recommending authors from the Muslim ban countries.

We can’t change the world, but we can expand our perception of it, and so today we’re recommending a book from one author from each of the countries affected and it makes for an excellent reading list!


Persepolis – Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is a graphic autobiography by Marjane Satrapi depicting her childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. The title is a reference to the ancient capital of the Persian Empire, Persepolis. Originally published in French, it has been translated into several languages including English.

Persepolis US
Persepolis UK

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Marjane Satrapi was born in Rasht, Iran, and grew up in Tehran in a middle-class Iranian family. Today the author lives in France and has dual nationality to the two countries.


A Sky So Close – Betool Khedairi

This stunning debut novel from Betool Khedairi centres around a young girl, coming of age. Born to an Iraqi father and English mother, the narrator struggles with themes that are universal.

A Sky So Close US
A Sky So Close UK

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Betool Khedairi was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1965 to an Iraqi father and Scottish mother. Today she lives in Amman, Jordan.


Gold Dust – Ibrahim al Koni

Gold Dust is a classic story of the brotherhood between man and beast, the thread of companionship that is all the difference between life and death in the desert. It is a story of the fight to endure in a world of limitless and waterless wastes, and a parable of the struggle to survive in the most dangerous landscape of all: human society.

Gold Dust US
Gold Dust UK

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Ibrahim al-Koni was born in Libya in 1948. A Tuareg who writes in Arabic, he spent his childhood in the desert and learned to read and write Arabic when he was twelve.


Maps – Naruddin Farah

“Maps” is the first novel in his acclaimed Blood in the Sun trilogy, set in his native land. Askar lost his father in the bloody war between Ethiopia and Somalia, and his mother died giving birth to him. Taken in by Misra, a kindhearted woman, he grows up in a small village. But as an adolescent, a true child of his times, he begins to feel suffocated there and goes to live with his cosmopolitan aunt and uncle in the capital.

Maps US
Maps UK

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Nuruddin Farah was born in 1945 in Baidoa, Somalia. He is the author of numerous novels, novellas, short stories, and plays. His novels have been translated into many languages and have won numerous international awards. He now divides his time between Cape Town, South Africa and Annandale, New York.


The Kindness of Enemies – Leila Aboulela

The Kindness of Enemies is told from the perspective of Natasha Wilson, who knows how difficult it is to fit in. Born to a Russian mother and a Muslim father, she feels adrift in Scotland and longs for a place which really feels like home.

The Kindness of Enemies US
The Kindness of Enemies UK

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Leila Aboulela is the author of many novels and has collected many literary accolades, she grew up in Khartoum, Sudan and now lives in Aberdeen.


Syrian Stories – Gladys Matar

“Syrian Stories” is a compilation of intriguing short stories that tell about what is going on in the author’s society. It is not about the war in Syria, rather about the people who find themselves trapped in pain and joy together.

Syrian Stories US
Syrian Stories UK

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Born to Wade Matar, a pioneering architect and Leila Richo, an artistic home maker, Gladys Matar grew up in Latakia, the city with the distinction of being the most important port of Syria.


A Land Without Jasmine – Wajdi al-Adhal

A Land without Jasmine is a sexy, satirical detective story about the sudden disappearance of a young female student from Yemen’s Sanaa University. Each chapter is narrated by a different character beginning with Jasmine herself.

A Land Without Jasmine US
A Land Without Jasmine UK

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Wajdi al-Ahdal is a Yemeni novelist, short story writer and playwright. He was born near Bajil in the province of Al Hudaydah and studied at the University of Sanaa.

With special thanks to reading addict June Senghi who helped compile this list.

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