Emile Habiby was a Palestinian novelist and a member of the Israeli Parlament. He was born in 1922 in Haifa. Habibi became one of the most popular authors in the Middle East as a result of works depicting the conflicts in loyalties experienced by Palestinians living as an Arab minority in the Jewish state of Israel. Habibi began writing short stories in the 1950s, and his first story, The Mandelbaum Gate was published in 1954, though he did not resume literary writing until the late 1960s. In 1972 he resigned from the Knesset in order to write his first novel: The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist, which became a classic in modern Arabic literature. In 1990, Habibi received the Al-Quds Prize from the PLO. In 1992, he received the Israel Prize for Arabic literature. He died in 1996 in Nazareth. 

Naji Daher is a writer, poet, and playwright, one of the best-known Arab-Palestinian writers. He was born in Nazareth and lives there. He works as a creative writing teacher and writes literature reviews. He has published more than fifty books, including six novels. His works have been translated into Hebrew, English and other languages. Winner of the 2000 Prime Minister Prize.


Mohammed al-Habasha is a Tunisian writer and translator born in 1992. He received a BA in English Language and Literature and an MA in Cultural Studies from the Faculty of Humanities in Tunisia. He published two novels and one short stories collection so far. He used to work for a literary radio show in Tunis foe two years and he currently works at the “House of Fiction” in Tunisia, as a director and coordinator.

Ahmed Omar is a Syrian-Kurdish writer, born in Amuda. He writes regular newspaper editorials and has published eight books: Maqsouf al-‘Umr, Qalb al-Duraq, Charles bin Dickins, Khilaf al-Maqsud, Civil War, Hudhud in a Bottle, In Auntie Merkel’s House, and Imru’ al-Qa’id al-Kurdi.


Omayma Abdullah is a Sudanese writer. She completed her academic studies in civil engineering and worked in several Sudanese newspapers and magazines. So far, she has published three collections of stories and three novels. Abdullah won the second place in the Fourth Cultural Festival and won first place in an Internet forum on her story “The Route Through Purgatory”, that we bring here.



Adham Adel is an Iraqi poet and writer. He was born in 1987 and holds a BA in English Literature. He has published three poetry collections, a collection of essays and a collection of short stories. He has participated in many poetry festivals in Iraq and abroad, as well as many poetry readings throughout Europe.

Samuel Shimon was born into a poor Assyrian family in 1956 in Iraq. He left his country in 1979 to go to Hollywood and become a film-maker and got as far as Damascus, Amman, Beirut, Nicosia, Cairo, and Tunis. In 1985 he settled in Paris as a refugee. In 1996 he moved to London, where he has lived ever since. He co-founded Banipal, 1997 the renowned international magazine of contemporary Arab literature in English translation. In 2000, he and Margaret Obank edited A Crack in the Wall, poems by sixty contemporary Arab poets. He is the founder (in 2003) and editor of the popular literary website in Arabic www.kikah.com. In 2005 he published his best selling autobiographical novel An Iraqi in Paris, several editions in Beirut, Cairo, Baghdad, Algeria, and Casablanca. It also appeared in English, French and Swedish editions. In April 2010 he edited Beirut39, an anthology of new Arabic writing, published by Bloomsbury in the UK and USA. In 2018 he edited Baghdad Noir published by Akashic books in New York.

Iyad Barghouti is a writer, translator, and editor. He was born in Nazareth in 1980. He holds a BA in Sociology and Anthropology from Tel Aviv University and an MBA from the University of Haifa. He published two short story collections and a novel. Until 2017 Barghouti was the director of the Arab Culture Association. He currently serves as a co-editor of Maktoob – The Van Leer Institute’s series for Arabic literature, and also works as an editor and translator. He lives in Haifa with his wife and daughter.

Habib Selmi is a Tunisian writer. He was born in Al-Ala, Tunisia, in 1951. He has published eight novels, four of which have been translated into French editions (with Actes Sud), and two into German. His novel The Scents of Marie-Claire was shortlisted for the 2009 IPAF, with an English translation published by Arabia Books in 2010. He has also written two short story collections, some of which have been translated into English, Norwegian, Hebrew and French in international anthologies. Selmi has lived in Paris since 1985.

Habib Sayah is an Algerian writer and novelist, born in 1950. He obtained his BA in Literature from Oran University in 1980 and worked in Institutes of Technological Education. He has published 10 novels, including four translated into French: That Longing (1997), Tamassikht (2002), That Love (2002) and The Guilty Ones…The Colour of Their Blood on My Hands (2009). He has also translated books of prose and poetry into French. He was awarded the Abdelhamid ben Hadouga Prize for the Novel in 2003.