Finest writings from the Middle East on contemporary issues “Tablet & Pen” is a literary masterpiece collection

This post has already been read 45 times!

Bookmark and Share

“Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East” is the perfect book to take with you on a vacation and relax and read through the collection of essays, either in order or selectively by title and topic. The book has 139 essays that address a chronological breakdown of Middle Eastern time periods. The 1910 to 1950, 1950 to 1980 and 1980 until today. Each is further broken up in to more selective decades that add real context to the writings.

Some of the essays in the anthology are well known and others are lesser known but powerful. It’s an inspirational collection that gives you some real insight into the Middle East, the Arab mind and the Muslim World. It’s a mix of Arab and non-Arab writings, mostly Muslim focused.

You could read it straight through as the writing talent is remarkable, of course. Or, you can do as I did and slowly pick and choose through the essays, re-reading many without boredom. The stories and tales are captivating and run the gamut from Palestine to Persia, Pakistan and Turkey. You get a sense of a common thread that rises above the religion, though, offering real insight in to everyday lives in each era.

This is one you will not want to rush through. You can read through it with interest driven by the detail and the eloquent writing styles of many of the essay authors. Much of the writing is translated from the native languages (Arabic, Turkish, Persian). Essays include writings by Khalil Gibran, Muhammad Iqbal, Forugh Farrokhzad, Yasar Kemal, Mahmoud Darwish, Adonis, Ahmad Shmaloo and Orhan Pamuk.

Edited by Reza Aslan, published by Norton & Co. in New York and London. 2011. 658 pp.

— Ray Hanania

(function(d){ var js, id = ‘facebook-jssdk’; if (d.getElementById(id)) {return;} js = d.createElement(‘script’); = id; js.async = true; js.src = “//”; d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(js); }(document));

This post has already been read 45 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is

Email him at: