Magazine article World Literature Today

Books@Café

Magazine article World Literature Today

Books@Café

Article excerpt

That I'm sipping an ice-cold mint lemonade and peering out over a sun-scorched view of Amman during Ramadan is one of Books@Café's uncommon features. The bookstore and café are among only a handful of places open during the daylight hours in the holy month of fasting. "We've been nonconformists from day one," explains Madian Al Jazerah on why he and his brother, co-owners of the café bookstore, choose not to close every year.

When the doors opened in 1997, Books@Café was the first Internet café in the Middle East, which made it unique from the outset. On the first floor, the collection of books in both Arabic and English is expansive, ranging from Western classics to modern-day Arab poets and avant-garde art. Upstairs, there's a spacious café that extends outside and serves traditional and international dishes, hookah, and even beer and wine.

"Our family was twice removed and refuged," states Al Jazerah about his Palestinian-Jordanian heritage. "Growing up in Kuwait, we didn't feel a difference between Christianity and Islam. …

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