November 14, 2022 7:56 AM EST

Noor Naga’s arresting novel If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English begins with a meet-cute in a Cairo cafe. There, an Egyptian American girl looking to reconnect with her roots bumps into a local boy who is disillusioned with the lack of change following the Arab Spring revolution. As their initial attraction blooms into a dark romance, Naga uses their complicated intimacy to probe larger questions of belonging, identity, and the true costs of globalization. —Cady Lang

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