Noor Naga, “Who Writes the Arabian Gulf?” The Common magazine (Fall, 2021)
Play • 38 min

Noor Naga speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about co-editing The Common’s first-of-its-kind portfolio of writing from the Arabian Gulf, which appeared in Issue 22. Noor penned an introduction to the portfolio, titled “Who Writes the Arabian Gulf?”, which explores her experience growing up in the Gulf with no real contemporary literature written for, by, or about that diverse population. Noor discusses her idea to create the portfolio, what she enjoyed about assembling it from submissions, and what themes unite the pieces that became part of it. She also talks about her forthcoming novel from Graywolf Press, and why an earlier novel didn’t find a home in publishing.

Noor Naga is an Alexandrian writer who was born in Philadelphia, raised in Dubai, studied in Toronto, and now lives in Cairo. Her verse-novel Washes, Prays, which won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and an Arab American Book Award, was published by McClelland & Stewart in 2020. Her debut novel If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English won the Graywolf Press Africa Prize and is forthcoming in April 2022 from Graywolf Press. Read her essay in The Common at

Read more from Noor at, or follow her on Twitter @noor_naga.

The Common is a print and online literary magazine publishing stories, essays, and poems that deepen our collective sense of place. On our podcast and in our pages, The Common features established and emerging writers from around the world. Read more and subscribe to the magazine at, and follow us on Twitter @CommonMag.

Emily Everett is managing editor of The Common and host of the podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. She holds an MA in literature from Queen Mary University of London, and a BA from Smith College. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily.

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