In case you missed it, April is Arab American Heritage Month! We’ve put together an A-Z list of music, books, poetry and more to celebrate Arab heritage in the United States. Read the first part of this series and join Mizzou Libraries in supporting Arab American voices.
Rahim AlHaj NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
Ancestor to the lute and the guitar, the oud is an ancient stringed instrument commonly played throughout the Middle East, North Africa and countries like Greece and Turkey. Rahim AlHaj learned to play the oud at age 9, and later graduated with honors and a degree in music composition from the Institute of Music in Baghdad. Today, he composes traditional and contemporary pieces for a variety of ensembles — solo oud, string quartets and symphony orchestras. This Tiny Desk concert features 4 songs, three of which AlHaj played with percussionist Issa Malluf, playing the dumbek. – NPR
Sons of the Prophet, Stephen Karam
This award winning play by Stephen Karam is a comedy-drama about two Lebanese brothers, Joseph and Charles Douaihy, whose father recently died of a heart attack. After their father’s passing, the brothers must take of themselves and their Uncle Bill. The play is an exploration of the fragility of the human condition, and the relationships and dark comedy born from tragedy.
Sweet Dates in Basra, Jessica Jiji
Just when her family should be arranging her marriage, Kathmiya Mahmoud, a young Marsh Arab maiden, is sent from her home in Iraq’s idyllic countryside to the unfamiliar city of Basra, where she must survive on her paltry earnings as a servant. Her only asset is her exquisite beauty which brings more peril than peace. Worse, her mother appears to be keeping a secret about her own mysterious past, one that could threaten Kathmiya’s destiny forever. Set during the tumultuous years surrounding the Second World War, Sweet Dates in Basra is the redemptive story of two very different cultures, and a powerful reminder that no walls can confine the human spirit. – Author’s Website
The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria, Alia Malek
In The Home that Was Our Country, Syrian-American journalist Alia Malek chronicles her return to her family home in Damascus and the history of the Jabban apartment building. Here, generations of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Armenians lived, worked, loved, and suffered in close quarters. In telling the story of her family over the course of the last century, Alia brings to light the triumphs and failures that have led Syria to where it is today.
The Thirty Names of Night, Zeyn Joukhadar
Five years after a suspicious fire killed his mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother’s ghost has begun to visit him each evening. The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria. One night, he finds the tattered journal of a Syrian American artist named Laila Z. She famously and mysteriously disappeared more than sixty years before, but her journal contains proof that Laila Z’s past is intimately tied to his mother’s-and his grandmother’s–in ways he never could have expected.
Tiffany – “I Think We’re Alone Now (Re-Recorded)”
Tiffany Darwish is an American singer, songwriter and former 1980’s teen pop star of Lebanese Descent. Her 1987 cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James and the Shondells was her biggest hit, and spent two weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This video is a rerecording of the cover, filmed in 2019.
Unsettled Belonging: Educating Palestinian American Youth After 9/11, Thea Renda Abu El-Haj
Unsettled Belonging tells the stories of young Palestinian Americans as they navigate and construct lives as American citizens. Following these youth throughout their school days, Thea Abu El-Haj examines citizenship as lived experience, dependent on various social, cultural, and political memberships. For them, she shows, life is characterized by a fundamental schism between their sense of transnational belonging and the exclusionary politics of routine American nationalism that ultimately cast them as impossible subjects. – Publisher’s Website
SWANA Alliance is an organization dedicated to fighting for the liberation of South West Asian/North African peoples. The term SWANA is a decolonial word for the South West Asian/North African region used in place of other colonial terms meant to conflate the region, its people and its cultures. The organization invites members of these communities to practice solidarity on the basis of a joint struggle rooted in their differences.
White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race, Ian Haney-López
White by Law was published in 1996 to immense critical acclaim, and established Ian Haney López as one of the most exciting and talented young minds in the legal academy. The first book to fully explore the social and specifically legal construction of race, White by Law inspired a generation of critical race theorists and others interested in the intersection of race and law in American society. Today, it is used and cited widely by not only legal scholars but many others interested in race, ethnicity, culture, politics, gender, and similar socially fabricated facets of American society.