Stories from the Center of the World : New Middle East Fiction [Forthcoming Anthology]

A new book titled Stories from the Center of the World : New Middle East Fiction (Edited by Jordan Elgrably) is forthcoming from City Lights Publishers and will include short stories from 25 emerging and established writers of Middle Eastern and North African origins, a unique collection of voices and viewpoints that illuminate life in the global Arab/Muslim world.

Readers in the San Francisco Bay Area are invited to a Book Launch @City Lights Bookstore which is scheduled for Thurs May 9, 2024, 7pm.  You can also pre-order the book on Amazon at this link.

Stories from the Center of the World gathers new writing from the Greater Middle East, a vast region that stretches from Southwest Asia, through the Middle East and Turkey, and across Northern Africa. The 25 authors included here come from a wide range of cultures and countries, including Palestine, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, and Morocco, to name a few.

In “Asha and Haaji,” Hanif Kureishi takes up the cause of outsiders who become uprooted when war or disaster strikes and they flee for safe haven. In Nektaria Anastasiadou’s “The Location of the Soul According to Benyamin Alhadeff,” two students in Istanbul from different classes—and religions that have often been at odds with one another—believe they can overcome all obstacles. MK Harb’s story, “Counter Strike,” is about queer love among Beiruti adolescents, and Salar Abdoh’s “The Long Walk of the Martyr” invites us into the world of former militants, fighters who fought ISIS or Daesh in Iraq and Syria, and are having a hard time readjusting to civilian life. In “Eleazar,” Karim Kattan tells an unexpected Palestinian story in which the usual antagonists—Israeli occupation forces—are mostly absent, while another malevolent force seems to overtake an unsuspecting family. Omar El Akkad’s “The Icarist” is a coming-of-age story about the underworld in which illegal immigrants are forced to live, and what happens when one dares to break away.

Contributors include: Salar Abdoh, Leila Aboulela, Farah Ahamed, Omar El Akkad, Sarah AlKahly-Mills, Nektaria Anastasiadou, Amany Kamal Eldin, Jordan Elgrably, May Haddad, Malu Halasa, Mohamad Khalil (MK) Harb, Alireza Iranmehr, Karim Kattan, Hanif Kureshi, Sahar Mustafah, Ahmed Naji, Mai Al-Nakib and Natasha Tynes.


Jordan Elgrably is an American, French and Moroccan writer and translator whose stories and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous anthologies and reviews,including Apulée, Salmagundi, and The Paris Review. Editor-in-chief and founder of  The Markaz Review, he is the cofounder and former director of the Levantine Cultural Center/The Markaz in Los Angeles (2001–2020), and producer of the stand-up comedy show “The Sultans of Satire” (2005–2017) and hundreds of other public programs. He
is based in Montpellier, France and California.

Praise for Stories from the Center of the World:

“A truly ambitious mix of established and emerging literary stars from a region of the world too often viewed through the lens of religion and politics. The stories collected by Elgrably reflect almost every corner of the mosaic that is the modern Middle East, giving practically everyone a voice and serving as a reminder of our common humanity. A timely and necessary collection for anyone who loves good stories.” —Reza Aslan, author of An American Martyr in Persia

“It seems like short fiction by Middle Eastern writers, writing in English or in translation, has taken an evolutionary leap in the last few years. Stories from the Center of the World is the latest entry in this renaissance. This volume is loaded with two dozen stories of exile, love, and magical realism. The characters that populate them are a patchwork of ethnic identities, as it is the case in the ‘center of the world’. What is impressive about this collection is how culturally informed and varied it is. The languages and settings referenced stretch across the globe, from Las Vegas to Beirut. These riveting and original tales range from a story about an Egyptian in exile looking for a place to pray in Las Vegas to a story about an ambitious writer who accidentally lands on the devil’s waitlist. I highly recommend that readers of this rich anthology take time to rinse their palate between each story.”—Zein El-Amine, author of Is This How You Eat a Watermelon?


Stacey Lewis
VP, Director of Publicity, Marketing & Sales
City Lights Publishers
261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 362-1901

Ramzi Salti: Talks, Lectures, Events

Arabology Podcasts by Ramzi Salti: Scroll ⬇

Arabology Interviews by Ramzi Salti

Arabology YouTube Channel Videos


Jordanian Artist Tamer Al Ahmar Revives Cultural Icons in Unique Ways

Film Discussion + Free Screening of "When Monaliza Smiled" on July 22, 2020 (Stanford by Zoom)

Top 20 (alternative) Arabic Songs of 2014 Spotlighted on Arabology

Hatem Shaheen Talks about the Success of his Jordanian Hair Salons حاتم شاهين يتحدث عن قصة نجاح صالونه المميز في عمان - الاردن

Video Recording: Ramzi Salti in Conversation with Director Fadi Haddad (July 2020)

List of Arabology’s Top 30 Songs of 2020 (Includes YouTube Playlist)

Dr. Ramzi Salti Interviewed about His Teaching Career, Radio Show, and Arabic Music

أميرة البيلي والقصيدة التي أبكت مصر(أنا مليت)

Some of Ramzi Salti's Arabology guests