The Birds of September author was 87.

Acclaimed writer and women’s rights activist Emily Nasrallah, one of Lebanon’s most prominent authors, has died.

Famed for her writing on Lebanon’s civil war and women’s experiences, Nasrallah was recognised both in the Arab world and internationally for her distinctive voice.

Her daughter, Maha Nasrallah, confirmed to The National that her mother passed away in Beirut after a battle with cancer.

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Born in a south Lebanon village in 1931, Nasrallah worked as a teacher and journalist alongside her writing. Her first novel, Birds of September, was published in 1962 and is still taught in Lebanese schools today.

It marked the beginning of her one-of-a-kind style, described by American University of Beirut academic Sirene Harb as both descriptive and poetic.

“You really travel through the pages. It’s not anymore a book that you have in front of you, it’s something you have inside of you,” Hard told the Washington Post

In 2017, Nasrallah received the prestigious Goethe Medal for her evocative work on day-to-day life in Lebanon under the shadow of war. She drew attention to discrimination against women, noting that it often starts at home.

“I wanted women to be equal to men… I lived, I grew from a peasant woman in the fields to elite schools, and I saw that women can advance,” Nasrallah said in an interview that accompanied her award.

Tributes to Nasrallah have quickly appeared on social media.




Nasrallah is survived by her four children, Ramzi, Maha, Khalil, and Mona.

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Images: American University of Beirut/Facebook