Fanack Home / Kuwait / Society, Media & Culture / Culture / Literature

Literature of Kuwait

Laila al-Othman
Fatma Yousif al-Ali

Given its scarcely urbanized past, Kuwait has not produced what could be called classic literature, but, thanks to its high education level, Kuwait has produced several important contemporary writers.

Ismail Fahd Ismail (born 1940) was one of the first to establish a reputation in the Arab world and is the most prolific writer in the history of the country, with over twenty novels and numerous short-story collections.

Among the most notable Kuwait authors is Taleb al-Refai (b. 1958), journalist, writer, and a NCCAL employee. He produces the monthly arts magazine Jaridat al-Funun. His novels include Zill al-Shams (Shadow of the Sun, 1998), which was considered controversial. Raihat al-Bahr (The Scent of the Sea, 2002) nevertheless won the Kuwait National Award for Arts and Literature. Fatma Yousif al-Ali (b. 1953), after graduating in Arabic literature from Cairo University, became Kuwait’s first woman novelist. She is a prominent member of the Kuwaiti Literary Association.

Laila al-Othman (b. 1945) is a short-story author. Kuwaiti novelists and poets sometimes get into the news not for their literary merits but for running afoul of limitations on freedom of expression. In 2000, Human Rights Watch mentioned that a Kuwaiti court had sentenced Laila al-Othman and Kuwait University philosophy professor/poetess Aliya Shuayb to two months in prison for writings the court considered blasphemous and indecent, although both claimed they had consulted various Islamic legal academics confirming the opposite.

We would like to ask you something …

Fanack is an independent media organisation, not funded by any state or any interest group, that distributes in the Middle East and the wider world unbiased analysis and background information, based on facts, about the Middle East and North Africa.

The website grew rapidly in breadth and depth and today forms a rich and valuable source of information on 21 countries, from Morocco to Oman and from Iran to Yemen, both in Arabic and English. We currently reach six million readers annually and growing fast.

In order to guarantee the impartiality of information on the Chronicle, articles are published without by-lines. This also allows correspondents to write more freely about sensitive or controversial issues in their country. All articles are fact-checked before publication to ensure that content is accurate, current and unbiased.

To run such a website is very expensive. With a small donation, you can make a huge impact. And it only takes a minute. Thank you.