Monday, November 20, 2006

Five favorite Middle East novels

Margaret Lowrie Robertson was an international correspondent in CNN’s London bureau from 1993 to 2002, primarily covering British news and politics and other European stories. During the first Gulf War in 1991, she was one of the first female reporters to broadcast live from inside Iraq during the Allied bombing campaign. Earlier in her career, she worked for CBS News in Cairo, covering the Middle East. She has just published her first novel, Season of Betrayal.

Robertson named five of her favorite Middle East novels--plus another source of inspiration--for The Week magazine. Here are a couple of titles from her list:
Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz

The flip side of the coin from [Olivia Manning's] The Levant Trilogy. Life’s dramas—small rewards, immense tragedies—played out along one of old Cairo’s teeming alleyways. Written in the 1940s, Midaq Alley offers a glimpse into a world that’s all but gone now.

Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger

From one of the last great British travel writers and from a time when much of Saudi Arabia was still unknown to the outside world. Arabian Sands recounts Thesiger’s journeys in the harsh sands of the Empty Quarter from 1945–50. In the introduction, he laments that the next generation of travelers "will never know the spirit of the land nor the greatness of the Arabs."
Click here to see the rest of Robertson's list.

--Marshal Zeringue